Saturday, August 22, 2009
photo: Doug Mills, The NY Times
There was some controversy this week about Obama's Editorial about health care, which ran last Sunday. The story was covered well by Editor and Publisher.com. Originally, syndication fees were charged, until publisher complaints influenced the editors to release the article for no charge.
"The charging issue sparked a flurry of comments among members of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, including several who blogged about it on their Web sites," the article states.
"Editorial Page Editor Mark Mahoney of the Post-Star in Glens Falls, N.Y., wrote, You'd think the president of our country would want all of his constituents to have that information, in order to help them make a thoughtful decision on his health care plan. But apparently, that explanation isn't for all Americans -- just those who live in communities where their local newspapers are willing to pay for it. (We're not, by the way.)'"
The irony here of course is that here is an article promoting health care for those who needed it most, from the middle class on, and yet how can the communication be understood if the readership is limited? Isn't it like saying we should all get sandwiches for lunch, and then only providing them to those who already have the bread?
Maybe a social networking/Facebook approach would have worked better.
By the way, the letter is very good, but that's not the point. It brings to mind a larger issue from a journalistic standpoint:
*Should newspapers waive syndication depending on the author and content of the piece?
*Sometimes, syndicated articles are obvious, and sometimes not. Should there be a standard format for revealing this information?
*When should a letter to the editor be used as the primary communications vehicle (versus social media), or should both automatically be used?
What do you think?