Grand Forks Herald | Bismarck Tribune | Bismarck Tribune
John Irby, who is retiring today as Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune editor, told his paper in late August that “I fairly enjoyed it, overall.” The 61-year-old newsman was more open about his departure in a column published days later: “I am retiring because I am tired of being the whipping boy, by one and all. My skin has thinned. Life is too short to put up with all the noise.” He says he’s not opposed to online comments, but he wants controls to encourage civil discourse. “There’s less tolerance for alternative points of view and that’s what journalism has always been about — about presenting as many different voices as possible. It’s increasingly hard to do that in journalism without getting attacked.” He writes in his farewell column:
Over the years, I have developed a thick skin and defended the First Amendment and freedom of speech. The only censorship I have personally practiced with readers has been libelous statements. As editor, I have supported – and agreed with – other institutional concerns as established by greater employer powers that be. …
There are no absolute First Amendment or freedom of speech protections for people making online comments. But I will never be able to convince those who disagree, so how about trying to digest this: The old days have passed. Editors are not in charge of, or responsible for, everything.