Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Columns: A Matter of Opinion

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Columns: A Matter of Opinion

Article excerpt

COLUMNISTS COMMAND a special niche in the journalism spectrum. They're allowed, if they choose, to let their personalities, opinions and prejudices come forth, within good taste, enjoying a freedom denied to reporters.

As readers, we grant them that right, and expect them to have their own points of view. Even so, some readers like to complain, expressing their own personal viewpoints in opposition, which is their right, too.

So now comes Reader Stanley J. Adams, citing what he considers to be examples of columnists abusing their prerogative.

In one case, the finger-pointing at columnists came from - surprise! - a Post-Dispatch columnist. Bernie Miklasz, sports wordsmith, had this to say about media comments after the recent death of Michael Jordan's father:

". . . columnists from major newspapers rushed to point a suspicious finger at Michael Jordan, all but holding him indirectly responsible for his father's death . . .

"Nothing is off limits, not even the mourning period of a suffering family. . . . I am ashamed of my profession."

Another case cited by Reader Adams was that by Thomas Sowell, who wrote in his Op-Ed column: "Elastic definitions of child abuse have . . . produced the kind of alarming statistics that create media hype and politicial alarums. . . .

"Those in the media . . . constantly proclaiming the public's right to know never seem to get around to letting the public know that many of the alarming statistics that are thrown around originate with movements and organizations with a heavy vested interest in creating alarm," Sowell wrote.

(That could be aimed at conservative and liberal columnists alike, I suppose.)

A third case Adams cited was an Elaine Viets column about a lost bridal bouquet and satin pillow that a young bride had sent to a South Side cleaner for preservation. Viets named the shop and its owner, Aaron Lipschitz, putting him in an unfavorable light for not having done more to try to find the missing items.

Her column quoted Lipschitz as saying he would go out of business if she published that column.

"Emotions are running strong" on this issue, she wrote. That proved to be true.

Reader Adams cited a letter to the editor: "Viets' callous reporting could cost this man his business." The next day, Lipschitz announced that he would close up shop on Sept. 30.

That controversy drew most of this week's reader calls and letters of complaints to me. All supported Lipschitz, saying his services would be sorely missed.

He specialized in cleaning, repairing and preserving bridal gowns and veils. Several cleaners and bridal salons referred brides to him for his services. He has been a president of the local dry-cleaning association and is proud of his many decades of service, he told me.

The Better Business Bureau reports that it has no complaints on file against the shop and that it doesn't open investigations based on only one complaint. …

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