Why do something that will make people mad?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 3, 2007

Are you newspaper guys crazy?” the elderly man asked with a smile. “Do you like having people mad at you?”

“Of course not,” I answered. “But we have to say what we think is right.”

And that is our whole argument in a nutshell when it comes to making political endorsements on issues and candidates in small-town elections.

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It may sound simplistic or naive but doing what we feel is right for the community — in this case taking a stand on who will be the next leaders — is truly the only motivation.

The Ironton Tribune has not always stood up for what its editorial leadership believes in, but it always will as long as I have a role here.

Are we always right? Of course not. Are we ever right? I don’t know. That is up to you, the voters, to decide.

All I can say is that any small-town newspaper should be considered a community leader. We try to do that by leading by example, serving the readers and holding our leaders accountable.

It is vital that any reputable newspaper has a voice in the community and our voice comes through the Opinion page and the newspaper’s editorials.

We take a stand on countless local, state and national issues each week. We must serve as a watchdog of local government.

How could we justify doing this all year long, but not taking a stand on who those leaders should be? The answer is that we couldn’t.

As professional journalists, we feel that we are best prepared to take large amounts of information, analyze it and make some decision on what it means. That is what we do for election endorsements.

Managing Editor Rick Greene and I met with every candidate for Ironton City Council and mayor and talked about a variety of challenges the city faces and how each person would address these concerns. Coupled with what each said at the candidate’s forum, we took all this information and made a decision.

Was it easy? Absolutely not. In fact, it is one of the most difficult things we have to do at the newspaper. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary.

We realize that our words carry significant weight and can hurt feelings. All we can do is hope that all the candidates realize that it isn’t personal and that our decision is based on this race, these circumstances at this particular moment.

Will our decisions be popular? Probably not. We aren’t trying to predict the winner or gain favor from any one group or the other.

Everything goes back to what I said at the very beginning. We simply want to say what we feel is right.

Don’t forget, any endorsement is simply the opinion of two people. That’s it. Take it for what you will.

We wish we were able to endorse in every race across the county but it just wasn’t logistically possible. We simply don’t have time to meet with each candidate.

But, each and every race is important and will determine the future of Ironton and the entire county. Voters must look at the facts and decide for themselves.

If you agree with us, that is great. If you don’t, that is great too. In fact, that’s what America is all about.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.