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Readers take Plain Dealer to task over holding series

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The Cleveland Plain Dealer printed letters to the editor Wednesday commenting on its editor’s decision to hold two investigative series based on leaked documents. [Read other editors’ comments.]

I’ve always warned my students to never underestimate the intelligence of their readers. These letters speak to the issue far more eloquently than I can:

It has been said that every generation must defend liberty, and this has most often been used to support sending troops to some far-off land – like Iraq. Though terrorism is most certainly dangerous, the real, enduring danger to liberty we face now is our own government using the threat of terrorism to support secrecy – not to protect us, but to protect those in power.

— Steve Bhaerman, Santa Rosa, Calif.

We readers know that the news media are being squeezed as never before – by demand for profits and by outright intimidation from government and corporate bullies. But if there is news we need to know, and somebody is hiding it from us, it’s this newspaper’s duty to print it and let the chips fall where they may.

— Verda Ingle, Boone, N.C.

Perhaps journalism isn’t the main focus of this newspaper, as much as selling ads or publishing softball, unimportant stories. It is unfortunate that its editors have chosen to listen to lawyers instead of putting the dissemination of important news first. I am reminded of a book, Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience.” Perhaps Clifton should read it and stop worrying about the bottom line.

— Christopher Landy, Ardmore, Pa.

Editor Doug Clifton would further the causes of journalism and good government by publishing the articles and facing any unjust legal challenges head-on. If these articles are so important, then the editor’s conduct is gutless. I suggest that he read Frank Rich’s piece in Monday’s New York Times and think carefully about his decision.

— John P. Parker, Cleveland

Only Plain Dealer editors, reporters and lawyers know the content of the articles, so only they are in a position to weigh whether or not printing them will cause the public harm. I don’t live in Cleveland, so perhaps I won’t be directly affected by this decision. But in a larger sense, I think all of us are affected whenever a wrong or an injustice is not brought to light. I now will always wonder if there are other editors who do not go public – but make a private decision – to refuse to print articles rather than put their newspaper and their reporters at risk.

— Susan Gross, Annapolis, Md.

Give readers credit for their intelligence and stop being afraid to stand up for your journalistic rights. Too many reporters have died over the years reporting stories from war zones for this newspaper to turn yellow and squeamish.

— Charles Tighe, Fullerton, Calif.

And, of course, there’s a less liberal interpretation of the PD’s decision:

Now that Doug Clifton has admitted to illegally obtaining documents for two “profoundly important” stories, I hope law-enforcement authorities investigate and arrest the criminals within The Plain Dealer. I find it disgusting that reporters and editors at this newspaper are willing to break the law to sell a few more copies – a very few.

— Geoffery L. Brown, Cleveland

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Written by Dr. Denny Wilkins

July 15, 2005 at 2:52 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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