If you google “editorial definition” you’ll probably see something similar to the one I found at dictionary.com:
an article in a newspaper or other periodical or on a website presenting the opinion of the publisher, writer, or editor.
That seems accurate. I was reminded of the word's definition as I read an editorial in today’s Wheeling Intelligencer, "Limits on Speech A Risky Precedent," which deals with Twitter’s recent banning of hateful speech. It begins:
Twitter announced last week it has begun to enforce new rules meant to reduce abusive, hateful, violent content.
Yes, I remember reading about Twitter’s actions, but I thought that Twitter had taken that action in mid-December not last week. A quick check yielded this search result from TechCrunch dated December 18:
Twitter today says it will begin to enforce new rules related to how it handles hateful conduct and abusive behavior taking place on its platform.
The event was 16 days ago rather than “last week.” Interesting.
As I continued to read the editorial, I found some of the language to be much more stilted than what I am used to reading in local editorials. For example:
the slippery slope of muzzling speech is one down which we must not slide.
Now very curious, I googled the phrase in quotes. The results listed that phrase in the exact same editorial in the following newspapers:
- Lisbon Morning Journal (OH)
- Altoona Mirror (PA)
- Gloversville Leader-Herald (NY)
- Alpena News (MI)
- Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune (OH)
- Salem News (OH)
- Warren Tribune Chronicle (OH)
- New Ulm Journal (MN)
What do you think these newspapers have in common? Okay, regular readers of this blog know the answer? Yes, they are all newspapers owned by Ogden.
In doing more research, I found that Ogden Newspapers are not rookies at this unethical deception. Here is an excellent report from Raw Story in 2010:
Newspaper chain astroturfs its ‘right-wing’ editorials
When you read an editorial in your local newspaper, your natural assumption is that it expresses the views of that paper’s staff and reflects local concerns. This, however, does not appear to be the case with the many small-town papers owned by Ogden Newspapers, Inc.
On March 31, an editorial headed “ACORN can’t distract public from the truth” appeared in the Fairmont Sentinel, published in Fairmont, MN. It was bylined by Gary Andersen and Lee Smith, the paper’s publisher and editor, and it slammed ACORN as a “front for liberal politicians” that has been involved in “illegal actions.”
Over the next few days, the identical editorial started popping up elsewhere, with no byline and under a variety of headings. On April 3, it appeared in the Minot Daily News of Minot, ND under the heading, “Good riddance to ACORN.” On April 5, it was in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette of Williamsport, PA, headed “ACORN victim of its own transgressions.”
These papers have one thing in common. They are all owned by Ogden Newspapers of Wheeling, WV.
(Update: What may be the earliest example of the editorial was published in the Wheeling News-Register on March 25 under the title, “ACORN Brought Trouble on Itself.” It was not bylined.
A final thought: I realize that the word "fake" was probably the most overused political word in 2017 but I think it very much applies to these Ogden local editorials. And yes, it's yet another reason to call them “newspapers.”