It feels really good to read or listen to a piece of news that’s slanted to fit one’s own worldview, I admit. It’s also a bad idea to indulge oneself in this to the point of making the oh-so-comfortably-slanted news one’s main source.

One of the things no newspaper editor can complain about is lack of feedback.


Folks in a lot of professions might go their whole career without ever getting letters and phone calls from the public praising or panning their performance. Not so those of us who work at a newspaper.


Sometimes this is wonderful, like when a reader sends an email that gushes about what a great job the paper is doing or how brilliant your last column was.


Sometimes the feedback is not quite so positive. You are told your paper contains “no news” and that you are an idiot. (When those sorts of letters arrive, I am somewhat comforted when they happen to be full of grammatical and spelling errors).


In the best-case scenario, the reader has a valid point to make, and you can respond to it by making some sort of change in how you do things.


But there’s a different sort of letter I’ve been getting lately, the sort that makes alarm bells ring in my mind: letters that protest the Opinion page running any views other than the letter writer’s own.


These letters come about equally from the left and the right. Those from the left complain that one of our conservative columnists needs to be kicked off the page, while those from the right complain that one of our liberal columnists needs to go.


Meanwhile, I try to run columnists from all over the political spectrum, giving everyone something to agree with and something else that might challenge them. Some columnists make me want to cry out, “Amen!” while the views of others are so repellent to me that I just want to cry, period.


Unfortunately, some readers apparently believe I just pick those columnists with which I agree, though how anybody could think the same person could be pulling for both Tina Dupuy and Michael Reagan, I don’t know.


What scares me is that so many people now think that the only good news source is one that closely parrots back one’s own views.


Once upon a time, all news came from one’s local newspaper and from one of the network TV stations, plus a smattering of headlines on the radio. Both TV and print journalists tried hard to be as unbiased as they could, trying to present the news without taking any side. Newspapers sought to confine all opinion pieces to the editorial page.


This is still the ideal at most media. But not all.


Now, of course, there are far more choices from cable TV and the Internet, which allow one the unprecedented luxury, if desired, of never having to hear anything one doesn’t agree with.


It feels really good to read or listen to a piece of news that’s slanted to fit one’s own worldview, I admit. It’s also a bad idea to indulge oneself in this to the point of making the oh-so-comfortably-slanted news one’s main source.


The important thing is for one to know the difference between informing oneself via an unbiased news source and indulging oneself in a slanted opinion-land where everything that is said sounds like something you might have said yourself.


And how to know the difference? That’s simple, and it’s what I tell all those who write to me and ask me to remove all the conservative or liberal voices from the Opinion page:


“If you find yourself agreeing wholeheartedly with any one media outlet, it’s probably time to find a more balanced news source.”


I don’t care what you are — Republican, Democrat, Green or something else — your party doesn’t have all the answers, and the sooner you realize we’re a diverse country full of many valid points of view, the sooner we can drop some of the hateful political bickering and start solving some of our country’s problems.


Editor Michelle Teheux may be reached at 346-1111, ext. 661, or at mteheux@pekintimes.com. The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Pekin Daily Times.