For Democratic leadership: New food for thought

I write in response to Rep. Nancy Pelosi's Nov. 14 Opinion piece, "Democrats will not disappoint." Imagine if Democrats in Congress were to send the following e-mail to their Republican peers:

"Please help us select majority leadership positions by nominating Democrats who you think would do the best job for their party – and for Congress as a whole.

You won't be able to vote on this selection, of course, but we will consider all reasonable suggestions.


The new Democratic majority."

Pie in the sky? Maybe. But what if it became a congressional tradition?
Walt Matell
Sparks, Nev.

I question Rep. Nancy Pelosi's final paragraph in her Nov. 14 Opinion piece about the Democratic majority in Congress.

She wrote, "The American people ... entrusted Democrats with their hopes and aspirations for themselves, their families, and their future."

Did Representative Pelosi misspeak, or does she actually believe that my hopes and aspirations for myself, my family, and my future would ever be entrusted to politicians of any party?

These are personal things that government can never affect. I can't even imagine turning my hopes and aspirations over to government bureaucrats. It is disturbing to think that Pelosi may actually believe that I should.
Suzanne Biggs
Elsah, Ill.

The Web is not a threat to newspapers

Regarding your Nov. 14 editorial, "Giving newspapers breathing room": As a former employee of The Detroit News's online department, I can tell you that newspapers' competition with the Internet is a false dilemma, although it is an ingrained assumption in newsrooms.

During my years there (1995-99), we constantly had to fight with editors to be kept in the loop on breaking news, or to be remembered by the reporters doing large enterprise pieces.

There is no real competition with the Internet when you're a major player in your market, even if it's only by virtue of name recognition.

The real competition is between mind-sets in the newspaper industry. The old guard in both editorial and advertising is almost uniformly single-minded in its commitment to business traditions that ignore the existence of new media within its own walls.

Many staffers had never even been to our own site, and/or had the false belief that the Web team's job was to just use Google for fact checking or similar support tasks. And many of those who knew better still treated the site and the team as competitors for their time and resources, willfully dismissing how advantages in editorial space and multimedia could enhance their own prestige, if only they had utilized the site to their advantage.

I still believe that a newspaper that adequately supports and constantly develops its own website need not fear the Internet. Managers may think they are hunting high and low for new business models, but most still ignore the answer in front of their faces.

That said, I applaud this trend of decoupling local papers from their megacorporation bonds. Hopefully one of the papers so liberated will find the innovative insight to turn its site into a profit center, and thereby show the rest of the industry how it should be done.
Rob Myers
Honolulu, Hawaii

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