Friday February 28, 2020
Oct-22-2006 13:08TweetFollow @OregonNews
Big O Leap of Faith
By Henry Clay Ruark for Salem.News
Kulongoski and Saxton
(SALEM) - The top man at The Big O has proven his individual worthiness and professional character in his detailed statement today (10/22) about “the process The Oregonian’s editorial board and I went through to reach our conclusions”.
He is, of course, explaining not only the process but also reporting on the overwhelming surprise --to say the least-- forced upon the most friendly of readers by the endorsement of Ron Saxton published last Sunday as “a leap of faith”.
The conclusion-reached was his own --as he clearly states. The Edit Board was split, 5-to-4 for Gov. Kulongoski. Caldwell made the “leap of faith” call himself.
Bob Caldwell has much to be professionally and personally proud of in accomplishment and character-delineation through conduct and action at The OREGONIAN.
That is an indisputable fact...and it is demonstrated every day, in many ways, right where it counts the most --in the pages The OREGONIAN devotes to the full and broadening gamut of tough responsibilities demanded from any daily newspaper these days.
There is another key phrase, however, in his explanation of from whence cometh The OREGONIAN endorsement of a former chairman over a sitting Governor.
Surely that action is, as denoted there, “a leap of faith”.
The detailed explanation offered of the process involving ten members of the editorial board gives the explanation in reality, whether so intended or not:
“We don’t vote at editorial board meetings. We talk. When we are done talking it out, i’s my job to decide our editorial position.
“Sometimes our editorial position is obvious because a consensus emerges and I agee with it. The discussion of the governor’s race was not one of those times.
“The board was split. Five favored Gov.Ted Kulongoski. One leaned toward him slightly, but also thought Saxton would be a plausible choice. Four favored Saxton.”
One of the strongest possible findings of opinion-making research, over many years, in numerous studies, is that the existing life-experience “surround” has much more to do with the final formation of opinion than even the most informative and persuasive of rational-point/making, however presented.
Here we have a clear demonstration of that potent power.
How else can one expect even a conscientious and sensitive person --as Editorial Page Editor Caldwell has surely demonstrated himself to be-- to respond --when the chips are really down?
There can be no question whatsoever of where the pressure potential lies in this particular key-vote; in a key state, with control of Congress lying literally right on the table as the vote is counted.
From the earliest get-go, the Saxton candidacy has been seen --and clearly labeled-- as a strongly business-powered forced-choice with a measured acceptance of the risk involved in presenting a candidate whose own “conservative” character is clearly flawed and in question by many key party participants.
There can be no question, either, that Saxton is already irrevocably PLEDGED to the now-notorious Norquist-Abramson cult exercising heavy influence in Washington; and committed to 19th Century failed-philosphy reflected in a notorious “drag government into the bathtub and drown it”-line.
That PLEDGE prevents Saxton acting in precisely the ONLY way possible to correct the corporate tax consequence “at the heart of the matter” for every State-program issue; just as it presents the most probable pressure-builder for any daily newspaper in Oregon today, living on the still-lavish proceeds of advertising revenue.
There can be no question whatsoever of what those pressures are in all reality in any daily newspaper today.
Every daily is facing the damaging impacts of ongoing change in the industry, continuing with the always-demanded heavy flow of advertising revenues inescapably needed; to realize the potent possibilities of any paper for both community service and continuing private-side profit potential.
Whether that dual-potential, arising from the very foundation pattern for daily journalism in America, is in any way openly at stake and with pressures already exerted, is not the issue here.
The reality is that The Big O, like every other metro daily, is facing the same inescapable impacts and painful involutions.
In fact, the ongoing further detailed explanation Caldwell provides proves how purely the chasm between the news-side and the editorial-side have, at The OREGONIAN, been professionally separated-and-protected; as one would expect of such an excellent enterprise in journalism as The OREGONIAN has proved itself, over and over, earning such distinguishing honors as its latest Pulitzer.
Yet the fact remains that, on this “close call”, to cite Caldwell’s own designation, the decision to make that “leap of faith”, was made by him alone “at the top”.
Perhaps this situation might well be a positive change in the process as-described: Even though the no-vote pattern is surely obviously designed to place the full responsibility for final Editorial choice right at the top, the potent democratic power of the vote might well be allowed to rule over the also-potently demonstrated power of the ostensibly-open market concept also demonstrated here. The competitive pressures involved are obvious for anyone sensitive and well-placed to observe, as Caldwell clearly finds himself.
What would the decision have been, if the Editorial Board had submitted itself to the discipline of the majoritly rule concept so carefully compounded with First Amendment responsibilities by the Founders?
What possible repercussions might have flowed from that vote, given the very-possible and highly probable group decision to avoid that “leap of faith” so visible to all, and settle for the solid “stick with the one we know” pattern which has governed so many similar change-process decisions, at so many levels, for so long --with proven practical and realistic results.
That now remains a major mystery for many; an unavoidably puzzling personal/professional question for Caldwell, too.
Inevitably, and perhaps unfortunately, it may also become a demonstration later on in the truth of that opinion-making process research cited early on.