Robert Vickers: ‘The wall of opinion and hard news’ fell long before he endorsed Romney

Pennlive.com

Harrisburg (Pa.) Patriot-News politics writer Robert Vickers published a column Friday about why he's voting for Mitt Romney. In a chat with readers, he talked about the decision, still unusual for a newspaper reporter, to publicly disclose his vote. It wasn't a suicide mission, apparently: In the chat, a reader asked whether he would remain with the paper after it reduces staff and print frequency next year. "I've been asked to stay on and have agreed to do so," Vickers wrote. Some more excerpts:

I wrestled with whether or not to share it, but I felt the thought process of someone who has greater access to the political machinations than everyday citizens was important to share. ...

I've protected my personal political views for my entire career. Even close friends have had a hard time trying to figure out my personal views. But the journalistic/political landscape has changed and I reckon this is a step toward existing in that landscape.

I made a call to a top state Democratic Party official last night to make them aware of the Op-Ed and would have done it with the GOP if the roles were reversed. But I've worked diligently to establish a level of credibility with sources Democrat and Republican. And while I'm sure I'll be having some interesting conversations in the coming weeks, I don't doubt their professionalism and don't believe they'll doubt mine. ...

The wall of opinion and hard news was blow open long before my piece today. I can't say that I'm fully comfortable with it, but as I mentioned before, the landscape has changed and traditional journalistic institutions must change with it. ...

I have long been amused by the notion some hold that the media is intentionally biased. There's hardly enough organization in a given newsroom to get a newspaper out each day, let alone conspire with some broader agenda. Now reporters and editors have opinions, but we are also trained to do our jobs factually. I think the bias label comes from people reacting badly to facts about their positions that aren't flattering.

Related: Patriot-News managing editor explains why they published it: "Our initial response was no."

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.

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