Friday, May 27, 2005

A Question

Yesterday we noted our lack of affection for the work of Betty Stein. Subsequently, a reader raised an interesting question: is the News-Sentinel (in the form of Stein's column) simply giving its readers what they want, even if most of us find it, uh, difficult to read?

We think the answer is no. You don't publish something that's bad just because you're afraid pulling it might upset a few readers. As it is, the N-S circulation numbers are down (as we and others noted earlier in the week), and while we have no evidence that ties cancelled subscriptions to Stein's "By the Way" column, it's pretty clear that she's not attracting new subscribers.

And even if some readers like Stein's column, that doesn't mean it should automatically qualify for the paper. Editors and the publisher make judgments every day about what's good enough to make the cut and what's not, so it's not crazy to expect the same thing to happen to "regular guest" columnists like Stein. (It's also not fair to the professional journalists who have to share the editorial page with her.)

We suggest that if someone is afraid to let her go, lest she won't have a forum for her thoughts, just have her to start her own blog! (We'd link to it.)

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