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Doce me faces voluntarem tuam quia Deus meus es tu

Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Doug Ray of The Tuscaloosa News had this editorial concerning the Paul Gattis controversy.

Regarding the Vodkapundit post by Will Collier, I think Collier is missing the point. I cannot speak on the matter in Ann Arbor that he cites, but he clearly misunderstands the dynamic at work in Huntsville. Gattis' vote in the AP Poll - whatever one thinks of the poll - is not a matter left to the determination of the readers. It is left to Gattis alone, and he should not be answerable to them on this account. The Associated Press has judged his reporting to be fit enough that he be granted a vote. Should his work in the paper be based on lies or mischaracterizations, then he should answer not only to his editors, but to his readers. As it were, his reporting was not in question. The only thing in question was his wilingness to be a homer for Auburn. When it appeared that his refusal to tow the line would cost the Times money, his editor took the initiative. I said this before, and I hope Will Collier comes to understand - this is not about Dan Rather or Howell Raines or Jayson Blair or Stephen Glass.

I'm not alone in this assessment, lest any reader think that he or she has me pegged as a naive blogger, hiding in his pajamas behind a computer screen. For other opinions, see Mike Vaccaro in the New York Post. Take a quick browse through the Poynter Online forums. Try the Green Bay News-Chronicle. Or the Arizona Daily Sun.

The point that Collier seems to miss is that this is one instance where the reporter owes the readers nothing. His vote in the AP Poll is his own, to do with as he wishes. He is not, nor should he be, under any obligation to vote in such a way as to please his readers. I've no doubt that Paul Gattis recieved some very thoughtful e-mails pleading Auburn's case. And while I may be young, I've lived in Alabama long enough (it only takes a week or two) to understand that when a group of sports fans becomes agitated, be it Auburn or Alabama, the riff-raff will find a way to surface. Gattis may have been short, but he was not rude. Ultimately, the opinions of the readers do not matter. Gattis is free to vote how he wishes, regardless of prevailing opinion on the part of Auburn fans.

I shall always hope that journalists do not seek to needlessly offend their readers. Paul Gattis did not go out of his way to be offensive. He was given a forum with which to speak, and no apology should be required for his actions.
10:25 PM :: ::
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