I might not like the answers, but I have to ask anyway …

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

The Business Times recently received a response to the editorial published in the Jan. 15-28  edition. In the editorial, we asked what our readers and advertisers would like from us in the coming year to make us a better publication. We noted that our local chamber of commerce does this every year, as do many of its members. We also do this every year and put the question out to our readers regardless of who they are or what they do. It’s simply a good business practice. We also understand that some of the answers we receive won’t be liked, but they will be taken into consideration as we move into another business year.

All of which leads me to Tony, who’s an occasional reader over his many years of living in Mesa County. He recalls thinking the Business Times was a great resource for someone like him when he was a newcomer to the Grand Valley. But he then adds, “…. It didn’t take long for me to realize that your paper’s rigidity and righteousness in its political views … was also a real detriment to your ability to cover the local business community or business in general in any sort of meaningful way.”

His proof of this is the three other columns on the opinion pages that are “all written from the same far right political view, ignoring the complexity of the subject matter being discussed and ridiculing or dismissing any other views, ideas or opinions that are not the writer’s own.” These were in addition to Tony’s last two lines in his opening paragraph, which stated: “I would most certainly enjoy reading an intelligent, well-informed local business publication more regularly. Unfortunately there isn’t one.”

I couldn’t disagree more. So say hello to my “li’l friend” Tony, a column about you.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to defend my right to write columns. It needs no defending. But I will take the time to point out several flaws in Tony’s arguments about the paper and just how columns, opinions, advertising and stories work in a newspaper environment. This is always a good refresher for readers, business owners and advertisers alike at least once a year. Believe me, I do it all the time on the phone, so one more time in print can’t hurt.

The facts are pretty simple, Tony. I’ve been publisher of the Business Times for nearly 15 years. And while I do get calls and concerns about opinions, I’ve never once gotten one about our news coverage. That’s because we do something that integrity based publications do, and that is to keep advertising separate from opinion and separate from content. So what I write in my column has no affect on what goes into the paper in terms of content. Now it might have an effect on sales, but that comes with the territory. By the way, some of that effect is opposite of what you might think, Tony. We also don’t allow advertisers to buy their way into getting a story, although we do tend get advertising from folks we’ve covered on a story about them or someone they know. Lastly, never in 15 years have I told my editor to do, or not do, a story. I exert zero control on the content of this paper. And that’s how it should be.

Frankly, if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, “How do I get my story in the paper?” over the years, I’d have several thousand. As a matter of fact, my editor keeps an updated published piece titled, “How to get your story told in the media” for the several occurrences each week we get this question. The answer is simple, and Tony, the folks here will tell you, “Just send a press release or call the Business Times.” Not only will we publish your story, we’ll also help you with advice to get it out to other media as well.

And just so you can rest easy, Tony, when we interview business owners  and others for the stories we do, never will you see a question or a reference to their race, religion, creed, sexual orientation, political views, favorite sports team, food preference or any other viewpoint the Business Times you believe exists would use to exclude those that come from, “….a multitude of backgrounds and experiences that may have resulted in somewhat different political and business philosophies.” I hate to break it to you, Tony, but we don’t care about any of that. We have one set of rigid parameters for our stories: They’re local and original.

And that “righteousness” we have in telling stories of people who continue to succeed in business locally, nationally and internationally is a privilege we take seriously. We write stories about people who have overcome great odds, found new and inventive ways and who have literally risked all to succeed. They do this in spite of regulation, taxes, competition and anything else in their way. It’s too bad you didn’t take the time to look at the other 26 pages of the paper that day, Tony. You would have read some good stuff on local businesses doing what I just described.

I think this Tony thing is simple. He doesn’t like my column. I’m fine with that. But that’s just my opinion.