Saturday, September 22, 2007

I Wasn't Going to Get Into This...

I've been reading some of the 313 comments on Eric Zorn's column about the Aurora Planned Parenthood clinic. I could say a dozen things about that, and frankly none of you would care. I know that I won't change anyone's mind about the matter, and I suspect Zorn doesn't really expect to change many minds, either. Such is the abortion debate in America.

But I do want to take issue with commenters who accuse Zorn of making biased statements or who scorn the Tribune for letting his bias appear in print and online. Some people who read newspapers apparently don't understand the nature of newspaper columns (and blogs, for that matter). Although sometimes a columnist will use his or her forum to report a story that has been neglected elsewhere, generally a column is intended to present the columnist's point of view. The Tribune pays Zorn to express his opinions, which are usually well-researched and coherently argued. It's a bit like having a reserved spot on the "letters to the editor" page.

I'm not defending Zorn personally (he can defend himself just fine) so much as the role of a columnist. Zorn's job is to present his opinions. Any bias you detect should not surprise you. He is not a news reporter, he is a columnist.

UPDATED 09/30/2007 - A week and several hundred more comments later, Eric Zorn has come to the same basic conclusion I recognized in the first paragraph above:

As I started hunting for quotes, I found not only that I couldn't begin to sum up the passionate range of views on both sides of the abortion debate with a few snippets, but that all the sound and fury left me feeling that the debate itself is hopeless and pointless, and therefore inevitably endless and ultimately tedious.

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