A publication that is not dedicated to home design or boating or any specific niche should strive for balance. So should electronic media.
Unfortunately, balance is as rare today as a barking cat.
We are giving balance a go, if you will. That’s why Bill is back.
My colleague for 47 years in this business and my close friend, Bill Thompson, is again writing opinion columns for the Business Press. He’s damn good at it. Heated debate and testy discussions can often follow right behind his point of view.
And in a democracy we need debate. Honest dialogue of opposing views. Our hope is that our readers will either love Bill or hate him for his views, but we hope he will get them to react.
For many years he was a front-page columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram His columns – mostly conservative when it came to politics – ran one day on Page 1 and the late and controversial Molly Ivins’ columns, liberal as they come, ran the next.
It was fun reading, at least for me. Until … until one day Bill surprisingly agreed with Molly. There went the balance. The meeting of minds was, however, brief.
We were young newsmen when we met, and I was his editor. We loved reporting and writing, and the legacy of Jack Kennedy, both being Catholic boys who loved politics and the Irish. We were drawn to the myth of old newsmen who drank and played as hard as they worked. Along the way we parted with the drinking.
Somewhere on that path we also parted ways in political ideology and sometimes had ferocious arguments but we never lost respect for one another. That’s important. Occasionally I would cross back over and become more conservative. Then I would jump back. I am either open-minded, flexible, or wishy-washy.
Today we do not agree politically. He sees some redeeming good in the policies of President Donald Trump – policies, not necessarily personal behavior. I see none. Case closed.
He’s been back on the staff of the Business Press for several years working almost solely as an editor, a job at which he excels. But I wanted him back writing and stirring things up, getting readers to think and react. He knows politics and he knows Fort Worth, having been here most of the last 33 years.
Recently in a survey of our readers a person said my political writing and views were trite, tired, and called me the magazine’s “token liberal.” I do not know how our staff members voted in the election but I know they all did. My guess is that I am far, far from being a “token liberal” in our group and we have laughed that the reader may not understand the word “token.”
Bill’s opinions will offer some balance and that is what we want.
We no longer have balanced views in this country. Do not for a minute confuse the shouting and crude interruptions from panelists and hosts alike you see on most of TV as acceptable or thoughtful debate.
A more significant problem in media today is the tendency to only watch Fox News if you are on the right and CNN if on the left. Folks don’t have to be bothered with opposing views or with having to sit back and think. If you read and want only your point of view to get a good shot in the arm your choices are many, but the content will not cause you to stop and make a reassessment of your view of the world. It will only solidify your beliefs. In national newspapers you have your New York Times on the left and Wall Street Journal on the right. I read both.
Social media is a farce and much of it Alice-in-Wonderland or Darth Vader-make-believe but if you are in the information business as we are you best be active in it. That is how you build audience, which drives our business.
So, Bill’s views will also be on Facebook and he may tweet and blog. We get it that we are in a new media age.
Many will remember the opening of the old “Tonight Show,” where Ed McMahon would announce “Here’s Johnny,” introducing host Johnny Carson.
Well, as of today with the Business Press, “here’s Bill …”