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Live chat with Bob Maginnis - transcript

January 24, 2006

The Herald-Mail will present a live chat with Bob Maginnis, starting at 1:00 pm and ending at 2:00 pm today. Questions or comments can be submitted by clicking here before and during the chat.

The text of the live discussion will flow into the bottom of this page during its live hour. You can either click "Refresh" on your browser window or hit "F5" on your keyboard to see new responses. Make sure you scroll down to see the latest answers.




Name: Sue

Guest: Maginnis

Question:

Is it important for the H-M to maintain its own ethics standards in order to give credence to any opinion or editorial stand that the paper may take?

I'm asking because there is a discussion on the H-M Forums about copyright and whether the message board itself is allowing violations.

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Since that Forum is a part of the newspaper website, I wonder how the H-M views an apparent duality in being a Publisher and expecting others to respect its copyrights but not setting an example by respecting the copyrights of other companies.

Having a disclaimer that is not enforced even though the webmaster has been informed seems hypocritcal.

Does that have the potential to make your job more difficult?

Bob: I am not in charge of the website, but I believe that if anyone could produce proof that someone posting is violating copyright, we would take the appropriate action. If you have such proof, please feel free to email me and I'll see that it gets to the right person.




Name: Daniel Moeller

Location: Washington County

Guest: Maginnis

Question: Mr. Maginnis, your credibility as the editorial page editor is at an all-time low in my house. On November 16, 2005, your newspaper had a front page article on the SAT scores. I did some investigation and compiled a list of SAT scores for every county in Maryland and for Baltimore City. I sent an email letter to the editor, you, on November 22, 2005, with this information. My letter was not published and you never bothered to contact me. On December 6, 2005, I presented the "Sour Apple Award" to the BOE in a televised public meeting to commemorate the 2005 SAT scores. Once again, there was no mention in your paper, including the editorial page which is your responsibility. On January 10, 2006, in another BOE televised public meeting, I discussed the Washington Post's Challenge Index which concerns each high school's effort to challenge its students to take AP courses. And once again, there was no mention in your paper, including the editorial page which is your responsibility. The above issues are, or should be, important education issues in this county and it seems that you are deliberately covering up any education news that does not support the conceited "world-class" status trumpeted by the superintendent and the BOE. So, my question is "Are you being paid by the BOE to perpetuate the myth that we have a "world-class" school system or are you doing this for free?"

Bob: Since we have published your letters for a number of years I would have no reason to exclude publication of your November 22 letter. I will search our archives to make sure it was not overlooked, or published on a page which you did not view.

As for your other issues, I depend on news coverage of official meetings for the information I need to write editorials. Sometimes when people are going to make presentations at public meetings, they alert me in advance or send a text of their remarks afterward for publication. If you could help me by doing one or both of these things, I would greatly appreciate it. I need readers' help every day to do my job.




Name: Tom Janus

Location: Hagerstown

Guest: Maginnis

Question: Did you see any questions from the moderator prior to this online chat?

Bob: To make sure we have enough material to fill our chats, we do prepare some questions in advance. I am sure when we get to the moderator questions you will agree that they are not "softballs." Please feel free to ask your own questions, or to follow up on someone else's.




Moderator: Is an editorial what you think, or what your boss thinks? Do you and your boss ever disagree about what position to take? If so, who wins the argument?

Bob: Our editorials are the official position of the Herald-Mail. On many issues, we have previously agreed on a position, and because events such as public works projects move so slowly, our editorials are sometimes a restatement of what we've said previously. The publisher occasionally directs me to write an editorial and tells me what position the paper will take. In other cases--such as political endorsements--we review previous news coverage, then discuss which candidates we will give our "thumbs up" to. After twenty years in this position, I have a good feeling for what views the publisher will endorse.




Name: Tom Janus

Location: Hagerstown

Guest: Maginnis

Question: You say, "I need readers' help every day to do my job."

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