In a letter to the editor of our local newspaper on Friday, Jim Firth of the local Democratic Central Committee has some appropriate comments for CABPRO founder/retired contractor/hard-right political blogger Todd Juvinall, whose latest “venture” seems to be an interest in building a housing subdivision on his land that includes 3 acres of wetlands/riperian area in Grass Valley. Nice.
Jim was in essence forced to respond to an “Other Voices” that Todd submitted to The Union, because the newspaper published it without proper vetting (see the New York Times’ policies below), so Jim had to set the record straight.
“Todd Juvinall is off — on another rant,” Jim writes. Then Jim sets the record straight, addressing the misinformation in Todd’s Other Voices:
“Democratic Central Committee members are registered with the Nevada County Elections Department (as are Republican Central Committee members). We are issued business cards and hand them out; we staff market booths and the county fair booth, march in parades, have an office, website, phone number and monthly meetings. The Nevada County Democratic Central Committee is a volunteer organization.”
Was all this avoidable? Of course. It’s another example of The Union not vetting the editorials that it publishes in its Op-Ed page, including correcting the grammar mistakes of its writers (Democrat vs. Democratic in Juvinall’s case), as Firth points out.
The Union is not facilitating a conversation on its editorial page. It is facilitating a mud ball fight. As one reader and longtime local school teacher here pointed out this week, The Union’s Op-Ed page is a “cesspool.”
While I appreciate that The Union has an “audience development manager,” (AKA circulation manager for its print edition and website), it also needs an Op-Ed page editor who works with the locals (such as Todd) who submit Other Voices to make sure their opinions are persuasive but not hostile personal attacks. This newsroom practice is not uncommon.
Here’s how The New York Times addresses the issue. An excerpt: “Once you have signed the contract, an editor will work with you to make the piece acceptable to both us and you. Sometimes that is complicated. If your piece has the germ of an idea we find fascinating but feels jumbled and out of order, we will probably ask you to revise it. We will never tell you what to think, but we will always try to make your thinking and your writing as clear and orderly as possible. We will try to help you strengthen your argument. We want your thinking to win converts.”
The Union is in dire need of adopting this approach.