I feel the need to post my correspondence here to allow everyone who has participated in today's activities against a biased media to see the results. Below is my ongoing emails with Bob Cole, VP, Group Publisher Minnesota Sun Newspapers. I wish to say that I am glad that the Sun Newspapers will not be running their advocacy ad designed to urge the citizenry to call our elected officials and ask for their support of the stimulus bill.
I will be removing contact info for the salesperson that emailed the advertising opportunity to me. I agree with Mr Cole. She was just doing her job in the sales department. I will be personally calling her to offer an apology. None the less, we must continue our efforts against a biased media. In the future I will be happy to list Bob Cole's contact information for any future correspondence.
Here is how the day went, it started out with this email to Gene Carr, Chief Executive Officer
American Community Newspapers
email@example.com or 952-392-6851
As a citizen and past candidate for office, I was taken aback by an email sent by one of your employees today. It caused me great concern and motivated me to write this post on my blog.
It sums up how I feel about the subject matter of the email. I hope you will empathize with my point of view and urge your employees to stick to reporting the news within our communities rather than promoting political agendas.
Then along came this,
As Group Publisher for Sun Newspapers, your message was shared with me so I might reach out to you about your concern. I also received a forward of your email to Sophia Johnson our account executive that contacted you about this advertising opportunity.
The last 2 words of the above paragraph are precisely what we need to focus on. An advertisement with a message about the economic stimulus bills running through Congress had been proposed. As a community newspaper, we believe that message is an advertisement not an editorial position for us. So we sought sponsorship to see if there were any interested individuals or businesses. If financial support is there, the ad will run as a statement by those sponsors. If not, the ad does not appear.
We have received polite negative responses, but your response was a bit harsh toward a sales associate who was merely doing her job. We have no idea which clients want or do not want to sponsor such an ad. Therefore we believe it important to contact all and let them decide. It is not our position to make that decision for them. Many people agree with your position, many do not. Our democratic process will hash out the outcome.
My personal opinion is that better government happens when we encourage people to become involved in the debate, no matter which side their opinion falls upon. Whether the proposed stimulus packages are right or wrong, I hope everyone has candid, fruitful discussions with our elected officials so the best solution can be found.
These are trying times for everyone. Spirited, respectful debate is imperative. I would ask that you remove the references you placed on your blog, particularly any reference to Sophia who may or may not agree with the content of the ad but was merely doing her job.
Thanks for your comments.
Robert H. Cole
VP, Group Publisher
Minnesota Sun Newspapers
American Community Newspapers
"In the community, with the community, for the community"
Your newspaper is clearly taking a position on this issue in my opinion. If the add was asking people to contact our elected officials to express their views on the stimulus package that would be acceptable to me. But this is not the case. The ad in question asks that we contact our senators and representatives in a totally different manner, "We need to let our elected officials know that time is of the essence. Contact our Senators and Representatives today and tell them we need to put Americans back to work now" states the add. I assume you have seen the ad in question. I have attached it for you to view in the case that you have not..
As a past candidate for office, I find media bias to be reprehensible however subtle it may be. I have been the subject of said bias by your own newspaper. That is one reason why I feel so passionately on this issue. As to removing any portion of my blog post I must say no. I included the email and my response in their entirety.
If this ad is to run, may I make a suggestion. Could you print this on the same, or opposite page?
Such an effort, to me as well as others, would show some semblance of balance in the reporting of this issue. As a matter of fact, Maybe the folks at the Cato Institute would pay for the opportunity to "advertise" opposite your "ad."
From Mr Cole,
A couple of things to take into consideration:
First, Sophia is an employee of the company who sells advertising. She is not in the news operation or involved in any editorial position. She was doing her duty as a account executive to make the advertising opportunity known to any and all folks who may be interested.
In that position, she does not deserve the type of voice mail she received this afternoon from a person in Little Canada following your instructions. His voice mail was intimidating at the very least, bordering on harrasment.
If you want to post my email and phone number that is your choice, but I must insist that you remove Sophia's from your website immediately.
Secondly, the ad will not be appearing as the support was not there for the message. If you feel it necessary to condemnfor accepting advertising from views counter to yours, that is your right, but I insist that you limit the scope of your criticism to our company and not an individual just trying to earn a living.
Finally, your response says some semblance of balance in the reporting of this issue. Again, this was an advertisement NOT a matter of reporting. Two distinct and separate functions of any newspaper. I reiterate, Sophia is in sales not news. If our news department were running an article on this subject, that is a different matter entirely and your criticism would hold more credence. An advertisement from any particular business, cause or organization does not imply particular alignment with any issue by the newspaper. If we were to accept an ad from the organization you suggest, that doesn't mean we align with their postion either.
In closing, I must insist Sophia's name and contact information must be removed from your blog. If not, I will have no other recourse than to seek action to flag your blog.
Civil discourse is the only way a democracy can weigh relevant issues. I trust in your sense of fairness and balance you demand.
Last and not the least, I hope, from me,
I am in total agreement with you as to the status of your employee. I will be removing her contact information from my blog. I wish to point out that I am doing this of my own free will, not because of your threat to flag me. I will make a point of forwarding my apologies to her for any any remarks that may have upset her. I am personal disgusted that any one I know would be overly offensive.
I agree with the fact that any ad purchased by a business or person does not, in your words, imply any particular alignment with any issue by the newspaper. But your argument does not hold water in this respect, in my opinion, because your newspaper designed the ad and then solicited it. That is a noticeable difference from a customer approaching you with an ad designed by themselves or instructing your graphics department to the content they desire. That can be considered one reason why today's events have evolved the way they did. Why the rally against media bias within our community began.
I am glad you recognize the need for civil discourse within our society. These last several years I have been blessed with meeting many like minded people who share such a view. I would like to point out one more thing, our country is not a democracy but a republic. No where in our Constitution or the Declaration of Independence, nor the constitutions of the fifty states, will you be able to find the word democracy.