Editorial: Debate shouldnt ruin civility

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ever notice on television and radio the reporter will ask a politician tough questions to the point that makes you speculate: Geez, does this person have a bone to pick with that politician? And then at the end the reporter and politician end the conversation with smiles and pleasantries.

That&8217;s because the reporter and politician know the reporter was merely doing his or her job. It happens in newspaper interviews, too, but it isn&8217;t witnessed by an audience usually.

The same civility that takes place after objective questioning often takes place after subjective criticism. This is in the realm of columnists, newspaper editorials, letter writers and other opinion writings.

A columnist will skewer a politician, then later, perhaps at a dinner or some function, shake his or her hand and kindly ask how the family is doing.

Politicians, public officials, agencies and others in the spotlight know &8212; well, usually know &8212; that part of their job is to stand the criticism of people who disagree. They also know not to take it personally. You can disagree with a person and still be civil.

As we head into the election season, the Tribune editorials &8212; this part right here under the heading of &8220;Our Comments&8221; &8212; will make endorsements. It is the duty of a newspaper to shape a community. Historically, newspapers have shaped the nation, going back to urging for independence from Britain. Denver beat Cheyenne as the city of the Rockies largely because of its newspapers.

Let us tell candidates and readers now. The people who do not get endorsed should not take the decision personally. Nor should the people who back those candidates.

The same goes for any editorial we write &8212; election season or not. We might disagree on an issue or a candidate, but we hope the best for every person. We wish them and their loved ones happiness on every day. How&8217;s the spouse? How&8217;s the children?

It is a shame when some politicians and their supporters fail to understand that. So far we have reasonable ones here in the Tribune area who get that debate and civility can go hand in hand.