Article Image Powell Gammill
Letters to the Editor • Media: Internet

Written Editorials Are Opinions – Suggestion To Differentiate Is Ridiculous … Ill-Advised

To The Editor:

In your comment re, 2009-02-02 15:43:53, I find the suggestion to change the ‘title’ “Editorial” to ‘Opinion’ in editorial writing quite whimsical and capricious.  Behind this unfortunate editorial advice are the following justifications that are too outlandish for me to explain:

[a] The first reason for the change was ridiculous. Of course a written editorial is a written opinion of the editor of the publication.  In Freedomsphoenix.com, writers classified as “editors” write opinions for this online publication. But according to this editorial advice, an editorial written by a contributing guest editor, “… misleads readers by implying that the respected editor, Ernest Hancock, vouches for the journalistic skills and integrity of the author.”  Thus it is hard to believe there is this ludicrous recommendation to rename the editorial to “unsubstantiated opinion of …” [the writer is named].

[1] What in the light of me is the connection of this editorial paranoia to opinion writing? This is the first time I hear that the Editor “vouches” or guarantees any editorial piece published in his online publication. Anyone who “implies” that the Editor “vouches” or guarantees someone’s point of view must be ignorant of the meaning of a disclaimer to any written opinion, which legally insulates the Media from liability as a matter of editorial policy. [Let us bookmark this super-doper ignorance in the practice of journalism].

[2] What is the relevance of the “journalistic skills and integrity of the author” that in this precipitous recommendation the Editor is supposed to guarantee whenever any written editorial appears in Freedomsphoenix.com? Did anyone hear or see this editorial requirement or did it just pop out of someone’s pretentious if not heavily biased mind?

[3] As a defense against liability, were those “skill” and “integrity” requirements disclosed to the public as an “Editorial Standard” to be met before a written editorial piece should be downgraded [?] from the higher category of “Editorial” down to merely an “unsubstantiated Opinion just because the one who recommends this change has a different opinion to what has been written? If this website agrees to the recommendation and takes action, are we not looking at censorship that rears its ugly head?

[4] Such arbitrary downgrading could damage the reputation of a writer because when reclassified downward it casts aspersions to his “skill” or ability to write, as inferior, as well as attacks his “integrity” as one that is questionable.

[b] Second reason in this recommendation for an Editorial-Opinion switch: It stereotypes editorial writings with such bizarre bias as "The Unsubstantiated Opinion of _____" “Or perhaps, just "Opinion" because *anyone* can publish any sort of inaccurate drivel and have it billed as an "editorial."

[1] Such labeling or editorial intervention is not what the “editorial knife” intends to accomplish, and passing judgment on a written editorial as nonsense because it was written by an opponent, is pure nonsense itself, poppycock not within the purview of editorial supervision and control.  That judgment belongs to the readership – for the readers to judge if a written opinion they are reading is in fact “substantiated” to be appreciated, or “unsubstantiated” to be rejected as a written nonsense.  Any ignorant kibitzer has no business in interfering into an editorial policy that gives writers the right to let the readers pass judgment on their writings.

[2] How would the said editorial advice consider an editorial piece an inaccurate drivel?.  Who says that it is “inaccurate”? Who passes judgment and on what criteria is it based, that it is a “drivel” of abominable proportion and should be condemned as such? Is it when any written view is unpopular? Or when it is an opinion that questions Libertarianism? Socialism? Capitalism, and the like? Where is this Freedomsphoenix.com’s declaration of principle, quote: “… the encouragement of alternate views being represented here on FreedomsPhoenix …”? Let’s not forget even in the heat of the moment, that FP.com is a free online publication it purports to be that encourages as its guiding principle, the publication of different and differing views of the American public.

[c] The Third reason why the editorial piece “The Idiocy of Conspiracy Theories written and published by Mike Renzulli on February 1, 2009 in this website 

should be labeled merely as  “unsubstantiated Opinion” of _____ …  because This _greatly_ encourages know-nothings and the reason-impaired of all stripes to **go ahead and publish.**”

[1] Who are those “know-nothings and the reason-impaired of all stripes editor-contributors that this suspiciously motivated editorial advice is referring to? And how – and on what standard --were they categorized that way?  Are we talking of a perfect, faultless editor-contributor” here that Ernest knows but is not telling us about his hidden flawless talent in stereotyping writers including myself that he doesn’t like and whose opinions are very much opposed to his views?

Here is the problem that I hope I can discuss with you in all honesty and good faith based on experience and from what had been learned in the academe:

The layman – anyone who has no formal education in Journalism or “newspapering” particularly in editorial writing – has this notion that editorial and opinion writings are two different things.  Before the above-mentioned suggestion deserves our attention, there should have been a showing first of what is the difference between a written editorial and a written opinion that the public should know. Without this, the suggestion is misleading because in the printed press, an editorial is an opinion, a viewpoint or a position of the writer over a given issue or subject-matter under public scrutiny.

Let us not forget that Contributors of written pieces to Freedomsphoenix.com come in four categories: Participants in Political Forums, Reporters, Writers and Editors [see FP.com About Us link]. An editor writes opinions or editorials. Editors that write in FP.com are “guest editors” of FP.com whose writings are considered “guest editorials” for all intent and purposes. They joined FP.com as such. They are submitting editorial or opinion writings to, writing in, and writing for, FP.com in that category vis-à-vis other online publications.  THUS TO CHANGE OR SUPPOSEDLY DOWNGRADE THE EDITOR’S WRITINGS FROM “EDITORIALS” TO “OPINIONS” IN FP.com IS SUPERPLOUS, IF NOT RIDICULOUS!

       In the preparation of the “dummy” of print publications [a daily newspaper or publication is a good example] the layout [format] editor sees to it that all written opinions fall in the editorial page/s.  In print publications, rarely does an editorial piece lands in the front page or elsewhere.

      In online publications, this is hardly distinguishable. Websites are formatted differently, as one may see how FP.com appears to the readers. But an editorial/opinion write-up is written differently from a news report or press release. Among others, it has no 4-W-umbrella and it is not written as standard inverted pyramid news stories are.

       To differentiate it from a news item, an editorial piece is comparable to a composition or an essay, although there are “styles” or techniques in editorial writing that makes the contents of say, an editorial column outstandingly different and powerfully persuasive.

       Bottom line is, a printed story is an opinion if it is a viewpoint, point of view, perspective, standpoint, a position on issue/s, judgment, estimation, etc. of a given issue.

       Lastly, may I call your attention to your approval statement of the suggested change that appears somewhat disturbing. I quote what you said: I\'ll continue to review our policy about the encouragement of alternate views being represented here on FreedomsPhoenix, but I\'m likely to lean towards allowing those I disagree with the ability to subject themselves to the beatings they might deserve here for my entertainment and continued education.

        You are in favor of allowing those whom you disagree with … “those with the ability to subject themselves to beatings they might deserve…” for your “entertainment and continued education.”

         I have called the attention of the editorial management to those repeated wanton violations of your guideline, viz: prohibiting those who are in disagreement with the views of others from indulging in personal attacks. Mr. Renzuilli, the author, was attacked on his person, not on the issues he raised, as “someone being paid by the government” [infiltrator!], “brain dead”, “idiot”, “clown” just in one sweeping libelous paragraph [you can read those vitriolic comments to the above-mentioned written editorial].

        Sumcad, another author, was also attacked in the same manner for writing views on esoteric subjects such as development economics, monetary economics and fiscal policy, which they have no capacity to understand and therefore they are very unforgiving when their shortcoming is exposed.  They try to cover up this inadequacy by resorting to name-calling.  But we know it doesn’t work.  Their short stock of knowledge although they are abundant of hearsays easily mouthed in public as “facts” or “the truth”, are still very much exposed.

         In your above-quoted approval statement, you described the victims of those personal attacks in this website as those “… with the ability to subject themselves to the beatings …” for your “entertainment and continued education”.

         When I read your above-quoted reply I was speechless because on record, I have always been in total agreement with the light of wisdom you share with those in the dark. But this time I disagree. And this is easy for me to explain why.

         Let us assume just for a moment, that I am Renzuilli, or Sumcad, or anyone of their kind who is no doubt good in the writing trade as a chosen field of discipline, for purposes of this explanation why I disagree. We have a reputation in writing to protect … It took us many years to scratch the ground to find the name we have nurtured and cherished as a hard-earned legacy; we tiptoed the line when we chose what to write, because we saw to it that no shenanigan would throw mud and soil that treasured harvest of our labor.

         As you know we are writers who responded to your published invitation to submit their intellectual contributions after working hard for each and every submission they make.  In the choices you offered what any contributor would want to be if we accept the invitation, experienced editors chose the “editor” category because in writing, that’s were they are good at.  Proof is, let us say, a consistent recipient of several excellence awards in journalism on record all those years.

         Having said that, I don’t think their injury after being attacked with implicit approval or tacit editorial endorsement is a fair excuse for the entertainment and continued education of anyone, especially when it is at their expense.

        I am now talking of Media responsibility and liability here when there is a showing of inferred approval of such wanton abuse.

        I am a dye-in-the-wool defender of any editorial policy that protects anyone from scurrilous personal attacks.  I am a Minute Man defending Sumcad and others like him, and now Renzuilli who is under attack because he wrote an editorial that is not to the liking of his attackers. As responsible members of the Media, I firmly believe that we should always be vigilant against any form of suppression of anyone’s right to freedom of expression. 

      Be that as it may, I would hate to see FP.com – the astonishing product of your long years of hard work … a treasured legacy as dear and precious as it is, similar to my own -- destroys itself when anyone is allowed even implicitly to turn it into a smear machine just for entertainment purposes.

       FP.com’s classification of four kinds of participating contributors considering the nature of the writings they want to contribute, is to me, perfectly fine, wisely designed, highly preferred and recommendable.  

        Under this format, we the Contributors, have a given voice in choosing what we want to be in FP.com, so that we can only submit our intellectual creations as writers at our own chosen level where we can be very good at.  We get the space, and FP.com gets the expertise. 

       This is the nature of this implied contract long observed and practiced in the Media, with the imprimatur of and sanctioned by the long standing practice existing in the Fourth Estate.

       My final words to you are, if we are to remain guest editors in your site, and considering that the suggestion in question was clearly made out of spite [he didn’t like the written view of author Renzuilli because it is different from his], and considering further that the suggestion to change your format is forcing you to classify without any set of criteria and therefore grossly arbitrary, the standing of editors according to their “skill” and “integrity” which is unprecedented in the history of Media editorial management, and finally having been duly established that such change proposal is clearly ill-advised, I strongly recommend that this editorial tampering be ignored.

Sincerely,

Lolo

3 Comments in Response to

Comment by Edwin Sumcad
Entered on:
Okay. Let's have some fun, guys. FP.com is for everybody's entertainment.

At FP.com, let's have "editors" that do not write editorials, and let's have "editorials" that are not opinions or viewpoints. Let's also have opinions or viewpoints written by "editors" that are not editorials, unless we like them.

Let's put up a NOTICE to make it clear to prevent misunderstanding, that if "editors" write and submit their editorial writings, and we happen not to like them because these are contrary to our views, let's label it THE UNSUBSTANTIATED OPINION OF RENZUILLI, THE AUTHOR, PUBLISHED IN THIS WEBSITE … before the readers read the published piece.

Or, THIS WRITTEN PIECE OF FP.com's "EDITOR" IS NOT AN EDITORIAL BUT ONLY AN UNSUBTANTIATED OPINION OF ________ CONTRARY TO THE VIEWS OF BROCK AND THE EDITORIAL MANAGEMENT.

We can put the icing on top of the cake -- a PUBLIC NOTICE in the Forum that runs like this: THIS COMMENT CONFORMS TO THE VIEWS OF THE MANAGEMENT … IT IS AN EDITORIAL AND THE EDITOR GUARANTEES THE WRITER'S WRITING SKILLS AND INTEGRITY. This will make those who are only good at _____, happy.

To balance this accordingly, another NOTICE is required. THIS COMMENT IS CONTRARY TO THE EDITOR'S VIEW … IT IS MERELY AN UNSUBSTANTIATED OPINION OF THE WRITER WHOSE WRITING SKILLS AND ABILITY AND INTEGRITY ARE NOT GUARANTEED BY THE MANAGEMENT.

By the way, notice is already posted not to indulge in personal attacks when making comments, but if you get entertained by doing it, you can decide by yourself to override it.

But if these clarification notices are too much, we can get rid of them.

The point is, IF those public warnings are put up, it will really, really clear up the confusions that have just been created.

Comment by Brock Lorber
Entered on:
The switch to "opinion" is liberating. Rather than possibly being the product of some editorial board, it is now clear that the author's opinion is their's alone. The opinions presented live or die on their own merit.

My chief complaint with editorials is that they are too often unsigned. My cynicism (and experience) lead me to the conclusion that, although ostensibly a gang effort, the tenor and tone are set by the original author. As Freedom's Phoenix has offered by-line attribution on editorials, they have always been opinion pieces, just mislabeled.

If you have a big mouth, like me, you should be willing to stand behind your opinions. I stand behind each and every one of my opinions with the caveat, as all reasoned human beings should hold, that my opinions are subject to change upon presentation of better information.

Mr. Sumcad, if you wish to hide behind the skirts of an editorial board, then by all means form and publish underneath one. The format of Freedom's Phoenix is such that you could easily link to such a forum, of your own property, and have the cake provided by Ernest Hancock while eating it in the manner you see fit, as long as you adhere to basic decorum and civility as determined by Mr. Hancock.

Comment by Ernest Hancock
Entered on:
The only "staff" that FreedomsPhoenix has is Senior Editor Powell Gammill, Webmaster Tyger Gilbert & Publisher Ernest Hancock. Any site member can post a 'Letter to the Editor'. I provide a higher level of site access to those that wish to write regular columns so that they have more features available to enhance their posts and to have their writings archived.

As the site gets more popular and more writers interact with the site it has become clear to me that the many new readers should not be confused as to what the function of FreedomsPhoenix is. FreedomsPhoenix (Ernest & Powell) does have an opinion,... and it often differs from the writers that we _allow_ to post here.

I do not see a benefit in preventing alternate views of the world from appearing on this site, but I will take whatever measures are required to make it clear what is and is not the opinion of FreedomsPhoenix and its supporters (and of course Ernest Hancock).

As I started to open up the use of the site to more than just libertarian writers I knew I would create discussion about my doing so,... it was intentional. I didn't do so until I had added features that would allow unlimited comments from members that only I or Powell could delete (for whatever reason we might justify to ourselves).

"Editorials" does give the impression that a publication supports the submission (like the editorial page of a newspaper) so it was very easy to change the name to "Opinion". It was an easy decision after some writers were marketing themselves as "Staff",... which they certainly are not.

Coming soon is a very large upgrade that will allow a new level of access that will allow approved members to create their own Front Page that they will be able to Name, Design, Email Dispatch, Manage their own Database of Members, Promote, Have their own Writers and almost anything that Powell and I are able to do with FreedomsPhoenix. THAT will be where you can have your own standard for content (and have access to post other writers work that is on the Global site). We will also have translations available in many languages (we already have Spanish - Click the Translate button in the navigation bar and see what we are talking about).

Make no mistake, FreedomsPhoenix is mine to do with as I wish. The fact that I wish to be as open as possible with the ability to post material here that I think expands knowledge (in many ways that not everyone immediately understands) may or may not please everyone.

The structure I created for FreedomsPhoenix is such that when a specific writer's opinion or topics are of no interest to any reader, they are easily ignored and have a limited ability to effect the enjoyment of the other submissions to FreedomsPhoenix. But never think that I will hesitate for a moment to make certain that the enjoyment and benefit of FreedomsPhoenix will not be damaged.

FYI


thelibertyadvisor.com/declare