Ask the Editor: Cuddy piece encourages debate

Column on Reagan has elicited a number of strong reactions both critical and supportive

May 2, 2010 

Placing Bob Cuddy’s “commentary” (on President Ronald Reagan) on the front page April 25 is a new low for the editors of The Tribune, and it demonstrates a lack of professionalism that boggles the mind. When did it become so important to The Tribune to put one person’s opinion about a subject on the front page rather than on the Opinion Page where it belongs? Are you so hurting for “news” that you were forced to place this diatribe on the front page? It did nothing more than to express Mr. Cuddy’s utter disdain and contempt for a past president and clearly demonstrates your political biases and prejudices. …

— Richard Erickson, Arroyo Grande A: I’m sorry you’re disappointed in our decision.

Our initial story describing legislators’ efforts to establish Ronald Reagan Day also appeared on the front page April 9. This isn’t the first time we’ve published commentary on A1; we’ve done so in the past on local issues and topics outside our county that have broad appeal and keen interest. The proposed Ronald Reagan Day was one such topic. Just like the initial story, we believe this merited the front page.

Among other things, the initial story mentioned Reagan’s place in history as an “American hero and California legend,’’ noting his leadership, courage, principled beliefs and ability to communicate with the American public. It said the bill passed by the state Senate earlier this year encourages schools to spend the day commemorating Reagan’s life and accomplishments.

Through his column, Cuddy encouraged educators to make sure that all of Reagan’s key decisions are remembered and taught to students, not just the positive ones.

Unquestionably, the column struck a chord with readers. More than 100 responded, and some canceled their subscription. Thirty readers, evenly split on the issue, sent Letters to the Editor via e-mail; so far we’ve published about 12. Seventy-five more e-mailed Cuddy directly or commented on the column on our website, sanluisobispo.com. They supported the column by a 3-to-1 margin. Overall, the response is outstanding. It reflects our ability to provide a community forum and enjoy a give-and-take among readers. Reasonable people do not always agree, but maintaining a dialogue certainly helps us better understand our different points of view.

Q: I really wish you could have sent someone to cover the groundbreaking ceremony for the Purple Heart Trail. ... I remember from a high school class one of my teachers instructing us about the “news.” What is “news”? News is what affects you. Well, at the risk of being egocentric, this event certainly affects ME and all the other 26,000 veterans and their families of our county. Certainly much more so than some loser going to prison for 26 years who managed to get on the front page of The Tribune. ... Maybe a follow-up piece of some sort would be doable?

— Tim Haley, Atascadero

A: We certainly appreciate your desire to receive coverage of the U.S. Purple Heart Trail. And we agree that the trail is newsworthy. That’s why we have written three stories about it since February 2009 when Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee introduced a bill designating a stretch of Highway 101 as part of the Purple Heart Trail. The second and third stories ran in February and April of this year. In addition, our Editorial Board awarded you a richly deserved “miles-of-remembrance bouquet” for leading the effort to designate the local stretch of Highway 101 as a Purple Heart Trail. (For those who don’t know, Haley received the Purple Heart.) We typically don’t cover groundbreakings; they offer readers very little information visually.

The Tribune respects our veterans’ service and regularly publishes stories highlighting them. On April 24, for example, columnist Bill Morem wrote about a Grover Beach man and his service in Iwo Jima.

Looking ahead, we always welcome suggestions for similar stories of interest to veterans.

Write me c/o The Tribune, P.O. Box 112, SLO, CA, 93406, or e-mail me at sduerr@thetribunenews.com.

Sandra Duerr is The Tribune's executive editor.

The Tribune is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service