Lon McNeil certainly stirred up something with his column two weeks ago where he asked if Albany’s problem was Leesburg. Here at the Journal offices, we have received a significant amount of communication from folks regarding that column.
It’s seemed that no matter where I go, as soon as people find out that I’m the publisher of the Journal, they want to talk about Lon’s column. Fair enough.
Some have assumed that Lon’s column was reflective of the Journal’s position. Let me say right now that it is not. The only column whose views you should take as a sign of the Journal’s position is my own. Of course, also understand that my opinions are also only my opinions. I do not shape the direction this paper takes on stories due to my opinions. The truth is what matters the most, and that is where our true obligation lies.
You see, I give each columnist the ability to contribute to their hearts content. I don’t agree with everything in these pages. Frankly, I think a diverse opinion page is good for Albany, and for the paper. However, I also don’t think it’s necessary that I agree with everything I publish.
In this case, I do disagree with Lon’s earlier column. However, Lon has explained himself in this week’s paper. For the record, he submitted the column for last week’s issue, and I didn’t see the attachment sitting in my email box. This week’s column had nothing to do with just trying to smooth things over so people won’t hate him. It was already in the pipe and responsibility for the delay rests with me.
However, there was something particularly telling in the mess that followed Lon’s column.
It seems that many in the community were ready to assume that the liberal media bias that so many of my readers are so upset about had come to The Albany Journal. This is despite a loud and professed adherence to a very different political ideology. I wrote for a long time about my beliefs and values, and for some of these readers to assume that I had somehow changed my values and beliefs simply because I am now a newspaper publisher versus a columnist is somewhat bizarre.
To be sure, many of you attributed Lon’s comments as Lon’s opinions and nothing more. That’s good, because that’s all they should ever be construed as. While this week’s column shows that they aren’t necessarily his views, one can only go by what a columnist says. I can accept that, and I have little reason to believe Lon doesn’t as well.
It’s my hope that all others will understand that columns that appear in this paper, and on our website, represent simply the view of the writer and not necessarily anything more. While it’s possible that I agree with the content of a column, it’s also just as likely that I strongly disagree with it as well.