Monitor readers weigh in on 'bias'
From the Editor
We journalists love brevity. By that standard, my favorite response to a June 4 column defending the Monitor against charges of bias was simple and direct: "Hogwash!!!!!" wrote Kathleen Morgan in an e-mail.Skip to next paragraph
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On the other extreme, there were several miniessays on the topic. Most important, the number of responses was impressive. At last count, 185 Monitor readers had weighed in via e-mail, with about 76 percent stating support of the Monitor's approach to the news, and about 14 percent falling loosely in the "hogwash" category. The other 10 percent represented views of the topic that had little to do with the Monitor per se.
Before sharing some samples of what we heard, a general thought. Monitor readers are an impressively thoughtful crowd, steeped in the news and pretty passionate about the events of the day. Anyone concerned about apathy among the citizenry would find no evidence for that here.
Now, a brief summary.
Those in the "hogwash" category thought either that the author was full of baloney, that the Monitor was too liberal (the majority) or too conservative, or that our coverage was clearly biased on a specific issue.
The "increasingly left-leaning position of the [Monitor's] articles and editorials have made reading it a difficult task," wrote Glori Kilpatrick of Highland, Calif.
"Now and then I pick up a copy to see if your left slant has eased. It hasn't. Reading the Monitor leaves me feeling discouraged, depressed, sometimes fuming," wrote Mary Kuhl.
On the other hand, Houston Barclay, of Duvall, Wash., perceived a Monitor tilt in the other direction: "During the run-up to the Iraq war, you folks were embedded with the Neo Cons."
Speaking of Iraq, more than one reader identified our use of the term "war" as indication of bias. For these folks, "occupation" is more accurate.
On the conflict in the Middle East, Norman Cohen of Seattle wrote, "Your pages have historically been skewed in favor of the Arabs and against Israel for more than fifty years."
On a more general note, Bradford E. Beadle of Blue Bell, Pa., complained about the Monitor's negativity. "Today I reviewed the April and May issues; the negative articles out spaced the positive articles by more than five to two! I find I must read other daily papers to maintain my positive outlook."
Some readers who felt the Monitor was biased encouraged us to stop fighting the fact. "I only wish that journalists would admit they have a bias or a point of view. It's normal and natural. Why not just admit it?" asked Jim Fisher.
Correspondence supportive of the Monitor's evenhandedness was noteworthy for its general tone of gratitude, particularly for the paper's founder Mary Baker Eddy and her stated object for the Monitor "to injure no man, but to bless all mankind."