Some readers consistently refer to what you are now reading as my "editorial" and complain that I'm not being unbiased and/or impartial in this "editorial," because newspapers are supposed to be impartial and report the facts. Others continue to accuse me and/or members of the news staff of violating the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics because "editorials" and columns are not impartial and unbiased.
Well let's look at the facts and the terminology.
As I once wrote in my weekly blog on the NewsandSentinel.com website, in the world of newspapers, there are distinct differences between a column, an editorial, a news story and a blog.
A news story is aimed at being as fair, balanced and impartial as possible, telling the reader the news as it is known at that point in time. Updates and followups to the news story add additional information possibly not available in the original report. The article relates what reporters are told, without the reporter making any judgment as to the truth, validity or accuracy of what the individual being quoted is saying. A news story's goal is to report what was said, not to make value judgments.
An editorial appears on the opinion page of a newspaper and is just that - the opinion of the newspaper on an issue of general public concern. It is not necessarily the opinion of the editor, the editorial page editor or even the publisher, but rather the viewpoint of the newspaper as an entity as decided by key personnel in the newspaper. It is not necessarily unbiased or impartial since it is not a news story, but rather an opinion based on information contained in news articles, observations or information obtained through additional research and comment.
A column, usually published on an opinion page and bearing the name of the writer, is the specific opinion of the writer. It is not the opinion of the newspaper and should not be construed as such. A column, like an editorial, states an opinion based on information obtained by the writer and is not necessarily unbiased or impartial since opinions by their very nature are not impartial.
A blog, like a column, is the opinion of the clearly identified writer and appears only on the Internet. It is not a news story nor an editorial.
As regular readers might perceive, sometimes my blog and/or my column agree with the opinion of the newspaper as written in an editorial and sometimes my view does not agree with an editorial, just as readers sometimes agree with me and sometimes agree or disagree with the opinion of the newspaper ... and that's the way it's supposed to be in a lively, interactive newspaper.
But just as readers are entitled to their opinions as published in letters to the editor, I too am entitled to my opinion and the newspaper is entitled to its opinion.
For the record, though, an editorial, column and blog do not violate the Code of Ethics by stating an informed opinion, nor do they violate the impartiality that is mandated in a news story because they are not news stories.