News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Max Jones

August 12, 2006

Views swing left, right, but balance is in center

Does the Tribune-Star’s editorial page favor and, therefore, publish more liberal viewpoints than conservative ones? Or is the opposite true? Is the answer somewhere in between?

Those questions and the debate surrounding them were around long before I began working on the editorial page 16 years ago. I’ve addressed them periodically through the years whenever I explained our editorial page philosophy, but I suspect some readers still try to find secret veins of bias and favoritism to bolster their claims.

A few months ago, however, I received an e-mail message from a reader than took a fresh approach to the issue. This reader actually kept a tally on editorial page opinions and posted the results in an Internet forum.

That message came from Judy Dukes of Terre Haute, and here is what it said:

“I belong to an online Yahoo Group — the Terre Haute Cafe. We talk about every subject we can think of, including politics.

“I got tired of hearing the conservatives on the site blaming their disappointments on the ‘liberal media.’ Beginning March 28, 2006, I started keeping score in the Tribune-Star.

“I limited this to columnists and letters to the editor.

“The score as of today was:

“Columnists: liberals 7; conservatives 8.

“Letters: liberals 10; conservatives 6.

“This looks pretty balanced to me. Were I an editor who really wanted to be fair, I would publish an even number of columnists, and publish the letters in proportion to their numbers, and if one side had more than the other, so be it. It appears to me that that is what you are doing.

“Being a liberal myself, I have mixed feelings about my observations. On the one hand, I want the liberals to win, but on the other hand, I want to prove that there is no liberal bias.

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