Advice to the new editor of the Carson City newspaper

Today the new editor of the Nevada Appeal in Carson City introduced himself to his readers thusly: “I’m Brian Sandford, your new editor at the Appeal. This is my first entry in a weekly column aimed at sharing what we’re doing here and why …”

My advice to Mr. Sandford is: Keep a copy of Benjamin Franklin’s “Apology for Printers” next to your phone. You’ll need it.

Benjamin Franklin

I started doing so in March 2010 after a few readers expressed rather strong opinions about an editorial cartoon the Review-Journal had published. I explained in a column, “One morning this past week we received two scathing indictments of an editorial cartoon by Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Ramirez. The cartoon depicted a donkey, girded with a suicide bomber vest labeled health care, shouting, ‘Obama Akbar!'”

One reader called the cartoon “the most distasteful, inflammatory, unintelligent and racist political opinion I have ever seen. I have come to accept the biased opinions and editorials from the Review-Journal, but this ‘cartoon’ should have no place in any publication …”

Another barked, “Have you no shame?”

The paper published both letters.

In my column I quoted Franklin, who wrote in 1731 in The Pennsylvania Gazette:

“Being frequently censur’d and condemn’d by different Persons for printing Things which they say ought not to be printed, I have sometimes thought it might be necessary to make a standing Apology for my self, and publish it once a Year, to be read upon all Occasions of that Nature. … I find an Apology more particularly requisite at this Juncture, tho’ it happens when I have not yet Leisure to write such a thing in the proper Form, and can only in a loose manner throw those Considerations together which should have been the Substance of it. …

“I request all who are angry with me on the Account of printing things they don’t like, calmly to consider these following Particulars …

” That the Opinions of Men are almost as various as their Faces; an Observation general enough to become a common Proverb, ‘So many Men so many Minds.'”

In replying to angry readers I would often futilely blurt: If we were only allowed to print inerrant truth, we would print nothing but Bibles or Qurans — but which one?

Which is a paraphrase of Franklin’s: “That if all Printers were determin’d not to print any thing till they were sure it would offend no body, there would be very little printed.”

Good luck and may you represent your newspaper well, Mr. Sandford.

And when the bastards yell at you, take the occasion to repeat Franklin’s paraphrase of John Milton’s “Areopagitica” in his apologia:

“Printers are educated in the Belief, that when Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter: Hence they chearfully serve all contending Writers that pay them well, without regarding on which side they are of the Question in Dispute.”

The offending cartoon.

11 comments on “Advice to the new editor of the Carson City newspaper

  1. Steve says:

    A thick skin doesn’t hurt either.

  2. Vernon Clayson says:

    In March 2010, compared to now, we could say we were barely acquainted with Obama, we could almost have said he was low key, but the wheels were turning. The new editor for the Carson Appeal comes at an interesting time, he can observe state government in action, with a governor that can be described as like mercury because it’s all but impossible to pin him down, there’s an apparently unstable legislator that may be banned from the great hall, while the rest drone on attempting to raise taxes without appearing to do so, and avoiding mentioning the coming doomsday of the affordable care act. So much to write about, so many to please, if he’s new to Nevada his first question might be “Who is this Harry Reid, he seems able to hold on to his position despite being quite like the alleged unstable assemblyman.”

  3. Athos says:

    Your cartoon could have the vest labelled Social Security, also, Tom. (Good article from Vin today!)

  4. Rincon says:

    Comparing the President to a Muslim terrorist is in very poor taste. It would be akin to portraying Roosevelt as a a Storm Trooper in WW II, but hey, this is America. People are free to speak, no matter what sort of drivel spews from their mouths…or pens.

  5. Athos says:

    In the above cartoon, Rincon, Ø is compared to Allah, himself! It’s the low information voter democrat that is compared to a Muslim suicide terrorist.

    A rather fit description, I may add!

  6. Rincon says:

    You’re correct of course. I find it less objectionable with time. It’s a clever cartoon, but I tend to recoil when the President’s name is used in a slogan of our enemy in a time of war as we might have with FDR. Of course, that was in a time when we rallied around our leaders in time of war. It’s different today.

  7. Athos says:

    What war?? How’d Ø do in Benghazi?

  8. Athos says:

    This President is “pedal to the metal” determined to wreck our economy. His denial of adding to our debt is astounding.

    And now he’s allowing FHA to run the same course as Fannie and Freddie. That lesson is ONLY 5 years old! What part of don’t lend money to people that can’t afford the house, do you liberals not understand??

  9. Athos says:

    Is that the war you’re referring? The war against the fiscal might of the USA?

  10. Rincon says:

    Call it what you may. I’m referring to al qaeda, etc. Would you be able to supply a link for the FHA story? I’ve been traveling and am not aware of it.

  11. Brian Sandford says:

    I appreciate the advice, Thomas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s