Monday, October 31, 2016

Pulling Back the Curtain

Dear Editor:

          The following disclaimer/explanation appeared at the end of an editorial published in the Albuquerque Journal on Friday, October 21, 2016 that ridiculed area teachers for taking part in a peaceful, symbolic protest in front of the Board of Education headquarters in Albuquerque:
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.
         First, I find the above statement lacking in clarity.  Who are the "members of the editorial board"?  There is an "Administration" designation that consists of the editor and five others.  There is also an "Opinion" designation that consists of four additional Journal staff.  However, there is no identifiable "editorial board" listed on the Journal web page. Your readers deserve to know whose opinions are being represented in the paper's editorials—and whose are not.
          Second, exactly who or what does the term “the newspaper” include?  All employees?  All staff?  A corporation?  If by “the newspaper” the Editorial Board implies all employees, how does the Board go about verifying that other Journal employees agree with the opinions expressed by the Editorial Board?  No Journal staff members I know have ever been consulted by the "editorial board" as to whether or not they agree with the opinions expressed in the paper’s editorials.
          Third, I find the disclaimer/explanation lacking in logic.  That editorials purport to represent “the newspaper” does not prevent the authors from signing them.  Why not sign editorials?  Doing so would go a long way toward enhancing transparency and accountability at the Journal.  It would also afford Journal employees the opportunity to either associate with or disassociate themselves from the opinions of the "editorial board." The teachers involved in the protest on October 19 proudly stated their names and their schools’ names prior to speaking.  This was akin to signing their names to an editorial.  They were not afraid.
          Finally, I counted 103 names on the list of employees at the Journal website.  This list does not seem to include the dozens if not scores of employees whose duties include printing, distributing, and delivering the paper, publishing the online version of the paper, cleaning the facilities, providing security, and so on.  Even if those employed by the Journal numbered only 103, the small number of Administrative and/or Opinion staff represent a mere 5.8% or 3.8% of those employed by “the newspaper,” hardly a majority or even a meaningful minority.  
          I urge the Editorial Board of the Journal to bear in mind the above points the next time they choose to minimize and marginalize the voices and opinions of large, medium, or small groups of teachers who have no problems with transparency, accountability, and courageous self-representation while engaging in peaceful, public events designed to draw attention to injustices endemic in our public education system.