Welcome and Mission Statement

The purpose of this blog is straightforward: to periodically respond to and critique columns and editorials appearing in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The RTD famously maintains a very conservative editorial page–you’d never know from reading the paper that Richmond is a city that votes Democratic by about a 70-30 margin. Moreover, the limited range of opinion typically offered in the RTD’s pages has a negative effect on public discourse in this city, and constrains wide-ranging, serious public discussion of the many severe problems and issues the city and region face.

Instead, readers are treated to a parade of syndicated right-wing columnists, along with contributions from two local writers (one a moderate conservative, the other an extreme conservative). The paper’s own editorials also are quite conservative in orientation (with occasional exceptions). To be fair, the paper does print Paul Krugman, probably the most important liberal columnist on the national scene at the moment, as well as Ellen Goodman, Leonard Pitts and Molly Ivins. But that’s about it; more radical points of view (be they local or national) are off the RTD radar completely.

In short, readers of the RTD are too rarely exposed to the wider array of voices that characterizes American political discourse, let alone exposed to international views. This limited discourse reinforces overly-parochial views on fundamental social questions such as poverty, race, war, and the American role in the world. Equally troubling, only a small amount of the material that appears in the RTD’s op-ed pages reflect the views and interests of the citizens of this city, especially poorer and African-American citizens. The world of the RTD op-ed page is overwhelmingly white, conservative and (to a slightly lesser extent) male; the actual city of Richmond is very different.

This blog, then, will try to provide a broader perspective, usually in the form of critiques of material appearing in the RTD. The blog is not intended to be simply relentless criticism: we’ll also give credit when credit is due, and try (to the extent possible!) to avoid vitriolic language and rhetorical excess. (Occasional sarcasm will prove unavoidable, I suspect.)

Initially, the blog will focus primarily on how the RTD opinion pages address national and global issues, but I hope to devote more critical attention to its coverage of local issues as times goes along (and would welcome suggestions from readers on how to do so). To the extent that this blog takes up issues of concern beyond Richmond, I certainly also welcome readers who don’t live anywhere near the region.

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Published in: on August 20, 2006 at 8:47 pm  Comments (4)  

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Iam delighted to discover this project, which I found through a link in a Richmond Peace Education Center post. These responses (thru 8/25) strike me as very toughtful and well researched. I hope they will not only inform our coummunity and significantly improve the quality of our public discourse (such as it is), but will also have a favorable impact on the editorial content of the RTD itself. Perhaps such persistent, specific, and relevant feedback will prove difficult to ignore. If the thought of what “Richmond Talks Back” might say begins to lurk in the minds of the denizens of 300 E. Franklin I think we will all benefit. I’m particularly pleased to see that kudos are included. May their tribe increase. Thank you for undertaking this difficult but important task.

  2. I am delighted to discover this project, which I found through a link in a Richmond Peace Education Center post. These responses (thru 8/25) strike me as very toughtful and well researched. I hope they will not only inform our coummunity and significantly improve the quality of our public discourse (such as it is), but will also have a favorable impact on the editorial content of the RTD itself. Perhaps such persistent, specific, and relevant feedback will prove difficult to ignore. If the thought of what “Richmond Talks Back” might say begins to lurk in the minds of the denizens of 300 E. Franklin I think we will all benefit. I’m particularly pleased to see that kudos are included. May their tribe increase. Thank you for undertaking this difficult but important task.

  3. Even though feeling like the only socialist liberal (?, so I have been told by neoconservatives) left in Richmond, I am a fan of the TD. I champion their integrity whenever I see it challenged. At the same time, I have been guilty of unmercifully scolding them when I see them trying to skirt an issue without coming right out and taking a definitive stand. Such as supporting the homosexual discrimination by the Boy Scouts by condoning the use of federal property for Jubilees, but without actually taking a stand for or against the discrimination itself.

    Credit when credit is due, they published the letter, though still dancing around the issue in their note beneath the letter.

    I was delighted to find you, through Barticles, no less. That says a lot, don’t you think?

  4. Ironically, perhaps, I also found this site through Barticles.

    As a relative newcomer to Richmond (ten years), I have regretted the conservative bias on the editorial pages. (I have resorted to reading the Washington Post and New York Times for more divergent opinions.) With the recent reorganization of the newsrooms, I fear the future may hold poorer news gathering from the paper as well. I know of several persons fired in the reorganization, and their commitment to getting the facts correct rather than merely quickly. Perhaps the future may also hold a site for reviewing news, as well.

    I am pleased to see that his site exists, and am sure to be a regular reader!


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