Friday, September 4, 2009

A weird inhabitant of intergalactic space, and how you can get involved in discovery. Your Friday instant mind-expansion on Hanny's Voorwerp.

Editorial: Council is right on Eco3 decision

I agree with the unnamed Courier editor that the sturm and drang over permitting an automotive business on a corner that has hosted automotive businesses for generations is not a problem. I even think it's a better decision than the exclusive million-clam condo complex that the owner hopes to build there when the economy improves. Prosperous non-tourist business downtown helps ensure the long-term vitality of the area.

But while he gets the issue right, the editor manages to work in Today's Chuckle:

And we have to ask the detractors, what would they do with the property that would be better? One commentator said leaving the building in disrepair surrounded by weeds would be better.
I read that comment. It was obviously sarcastic, making fun of other commenters, and even explained as such. But the editor didn't get it at all, failing to read beyond the heading. Yeesh.

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.