As a former journalist, I read with interest your View-point “PN's way: taking good with the bad,” [Oct. 11, Page 6], which extolled the virtues of Plastics News not being the “industry cheerleader.”
For nearly five years, I've explained just that to our members and others: that PN sees itself as a mirror of the industry, not its house organ. That's why, the logic goes, its reporters really do strive for balance in its pages.
In those five years, quite honestly, I haven't had a single soul agree with me.
And I think I know why.
It's not that PN reports bad news when it has to, it's that it seems to go to such great lengths to find it and insert it wherever it can. It's not so much in the story selection as it is in the telling of the story.
I was reminded of this by the recent article on Don Duncan's pending retirement as president of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. Faced with nothing to report but positive comments from members and positive facts of a man's accomplishments, PN felt compelled to go back three years to find a criticism in a letter from an unhappy former employee. Low blow.
And just two weeks prior, a report on SPI's new “Fantastic Plastics Works” exhibit at Innoventions at Epcot noted that the show-case of plastics' benefits didn't address “environmental questions” surrounding certain polymers and the allegations of activist groups against sponsors. Well, duh.
Both sidelights, I'm sure, were in the name of “balance.”
I spent years working for a major daily newspaper, and we, too, thought we were right up there with Jonas Salk when it came to our contribution to mankind. We were, after all, the purveyors of absolute truth. But even we had to admit now and then that the story was just the story. And that positive news actually can stand on its own. It really can.
And, I think your critics would argue, often it really should.
Good news is not necessarily bad journalism.
Bonnie Merrill Limbach