Letters to the Editor: $100 million in campaign spending doesn’t show you care about the people who pay the piper
The editor of The Daily Press, a community newspaper in New London, asks us to consider the role of the newspaper in a democracy. We have been told that there are three ways to show that we care: (1) We publish an editorial. (2) We publish the names of every individual who contributed to this campaign. (3) We name every individual who provided money to this campaign. He proposes that one be enough, that $100 million is a fair price for our public servant and public responsibility – and that the newspaper should do all three:
Let’s start with the third: It is entirely appropriate for a newspaper to name the individuals who make major contributions to its campaigns. They are its readers and its advertisers.
We believe that the editor has misjudged the role of the newspaper here. He wants to know so much that he has forgotten about the role the newspaper plays in the democracy.
First, this is not an anti-campaign-contributor editorial. It is a statement of the journalist’s own principles. If a journalist is willing to contribute money to a campaign, then it is incumbent upon him or her to have the integrity to do so without the benefit of campaign contributions. Otherwise, the newspaper has failed to live up to its name and failed to be an advocate for the truth – its responsibility.
Second, the editor of The Daily Press is in a difficult position. He must choose between two values. He has been asked to consider the public relations benefit that comes from contributing to a candidate’s campaign and the responsibility that falls to the newspaper for allowing the contributions to continue. His choice is easy: To do his level best to do politics and journalism in the full and equal partnership of the newspaper.
He made his choice when he accepted the position. He has been elected to a different kind of partnership, where power must be shared fairly and openly. He has seen that this partnership demands that he accept that part of his responsibility is to make sure