The Times-Union opinion pages still abides from some traditional guidelines.
In a world of social media where opinion and fact are increasingly blurred, our content is labeled as opinion — no apologies.
Under the broad opinion label, however, there are some meaningful differences that often are lost on our readers.
For instance, readers commonly call anything on our pages “editorials.”
For us, an editorial is only the unsigned opinion piece placed at the top of the page.
Why not sign it? Well, it represents the institutional view of the newspaper. That’s common in our business.
But we’re not anonymous.
The staff members of the Editorial Board are named every day on the Editorial Page’s masthead.
I handle the daily operations of the pages, but I answer directly to Editor at Large Frank Denton — and Denton answers to President Mark Nusbaum.
Everything else on our pages represents only the personal opinions of the writers or artists. So letters and opinion columns and cartoons only represent personal views, not necessarily those of the Times-Union. Columnist Ron Littlepage’s views, for instance, don’t necessarily agree with the editorial stance of the newspaper.
And there is some balance to that.
In fact, on controversial matters we do our best to pair opposing views on the same page. That gives our readers a chance to compare them at a glance.
Sometimes, however, we only receive letters with one particular view so that limits attempts to provide balance.
We give letter writers and columnists a lot of freedom to express their views.
But if we know a fact is wrong, we will either delete or correct it.
That is why we advise letter writers to include key sources.
It helps us to check.
Since last week’s column on spotting fake news, there were two prominent examples of it.
The ironically named Project Veritas tried to deliver a fake story to The Washington Post regarding allegations against Roy Moore, the candidate for the U.S. Senate in Alabama. Moore has been accused by multiple women of inappropriate conduct. But in doing its routine checks, the Post spotted the fake tip.
Readers almost never hear about all the dead-ends that reporters follow as routine parts of their jobs.
But that’s the difference between professional journalists and hatchet men pretending to be journalists.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump retweeted videos that have been exposed as originating from a far-right group in Britain.
The president has a staff. He could use some fact-checking before he tweets.
The president’s spokeswoman said Trump was just trying to warn about the dangers of Muslim terrorists.
No argument there.
But terrorists come in many faces — from the racist Dylann Roof in Charleston to the Islamist Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to the anti-government extremist Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City bombing) to the anti-abortion extremist Eric Rudolph (Atlanta Olympics bombing) to the ISIS-inspired Orlando nightclub terrorist Omar Mateen.
The dangers from all of them need to be recognized and combated.
The threats to Americans are similar.
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