Many times I’ve lamented in this space about readers being critically incredulous that this conservative columnist would listen and read non-conservative newscasts and talk shows or take publications with a liberal bias. I always felt I wasn’t getting it across. Some kept seriously questioning my conservative bona fides.
The July issue of Fortune magazine featured interviews with 20 highly successful people in varied fields, from Warren Buffet to Tiger Woods, in which they shared "The Best Advice I Ever Got."
One jumped out. I quote Mohammed El-Erian, CEO and co-chief investment officer of Pimco: "We were living in Paris, back when my father was Egypt’s ambassador to France. Each day we used to get at least four daily newspapers, from Le Figoro on the right side of the political spectrum to L’humanite, which was the newspaper of the Communist Party. Why did we need four newspapers? He said to me, ‘Unless you read different points of view, your mind will eventually close, and you’ll become a prisoner to a certain point of view that you’ll never question.’"
I see the truth of that statement every day. I wish I could have explained it so clearly and eloquently.
Tied very closely to that pearl of wisdom is one sentence from Lauren Zalaznick, president of Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, NBC Universal. She bluntly says, "You don’t have to agree with the other person, but you do need to make sure that you both understand why you disagree."
I can see myself in bed but awake trying to think of how to adapt those jewels into my list of Oglesbyisms.
Intentions on both sides of the dispute between The Times and city of Gainesville appear admirable. The city wants to keep confidential the names of two employees allegedly harassed by the former city manager, sparing them the embarrassment of their names publicized. It gave the report to The Times with the names blacked out and even went to so far as to agree to show the report without name blackouts, provided the names wouldn’t be published without its permission.
Sorry, city, no self-respecting newspaper would agree to allow government to dictate that a public record couldn’t be published. Were such a case get before the U.S. Supreme Court, I can’t imagine how the city could win. Such rulings long have been consistent. One decision I remember very well held that the Constitution doesn’t require any media be responsible but it does require it be free.
When teaching a newspaper-in-education class of teachers, I showed them a large front page picture of a police officer racing across a front yard to a van at the curb escorting a terrified, completely naked woman who had been held hostage in Florida until a SWAT team rescued her. She sued the paper and won a sizable judgment.
I asked the class if the decision was right. They were unanimous it was and were stunned when I read a Supreme Court ruling reversing the lower court. I agree that paper was irresponsible, but as earlier written, the Constitution doesn’t require responsibility.
I strongly believe The Times is responsible.
Ted Oglesby is retired associate and opinion page editor. Reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503. His column appears biweekly and on gainesvilletimes.com.