Friday, September 4, 2009

What qualifies?

Today we have two pieces on the opinion page that have a lot in common, but they are treated quite differently by the editors.

The letter from AARP State Director David Mitchell seeks to dispel political myths previously seen on the page, as does the piece by Robert Ulrich. What I can't figure out is why one is published as a letter and the other as a Talk of the Town column.

The letter is from a person with clear credentials, weighing in on a broad public issue. The ToT is from a cranky regular guy taking issue with a single previous letter. Broad vs. narrow, credentials vs. none. It would have made more sense to me to promote Mitchell to ToT status (maybe inviting him to expand a bit) and publish Ulrich's worthy (if wordy) piece as a letter.

But so often it appears that this sort of editorial decision is being made randomly. It matters because readers use feature heads and page status to make decisions about the importance of what they're reading.


Birther T. Bagur said...

You notice that cranky regular guy who get to write the "Talk of the Town" lies and acts like Social Security has been in the red? Meanwhile, here in reality, Social Security has ran surpluses for many years.
Cranky old guy demanded tax cuts, put them in his pocket, and looked the other way as government was run on the excess Social Security money and loans.
Now he throws is hands up and acts like he wasn't part of the problem.

Steven Ayres said...

The whole piece seems pretty scattershot, as if Ulrich couldn't quite focus on what he wanted to say. I really don't know what to make of it.