An editor blogs
: Doug Clifton, editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, has started a weblog at Cleveland.com.
I’m not sure I know of another editor of a major daily paper who’s attempting this. Do you?
Clifton says he will use the weblog as another way to communicate with readers:
As a lifelong consumer of the written word displayed on paper, the prospect of talking to readers by way of a “blog” is a little unnerving.
I’ve decided to tip toe into these electronic waters because I recognize that to ignore change is to be consumed by it.
In his first post, he dives right in, discussing the paper’s policy in a complicated controversy regarding the publishing of the names of holders of new concealed-weapon permits (names that can be revealed to media but not to individuals). He explains:
We also believe that a democracy works best when the public has the capacity to inform itself if it so chooses and, certainly, the ability to learn whether someone in your neighborhood carries a concealed weapon should be among the things a citizen has a right to.
That would be our position on all kinds of license information, from marriage to fishing and all stops in between. That said, we also believe that if a record is open to one class of citizen – in this case the media – it should be open to all citizens.
To favor one group over another is unfair and probably unconstitutional. Besides, because “media” is so broadly defined the Ohio law would give access to permit records to anyone who worked for a publication of any description.
Under the Ohio concealed carry law the most disreputable journalist in the country working for the most disreputable publication would have access to the records but the parish priest, the school teacher, even the governor, would be denied.
So we decided that we had an obligation to share the information the legislature had given us the right to see….
If the records were open to public scrutiny there would be no need for us to publish them. But as long as the legislature creates this dual citizenship I think we have an obligation to share the information.
This sort of transparency, explaining what is behind the decisions made inside a major media institution, is a good thing and this is a good format for it.
Full disclosure: Cleveland.com is one of the services at my day job (so don’t expect me to get into any Second Amendment fisticuffs in the comments).