Harsanyi Moves to Editorial

I don’t know whether David Harsanyi is happy about the move or not, but I hope it works to his advantage. The Denver Post announced today that Harsanyi, who has been writing columns for the paper’s news section, will join the editorial team. The article announces:

… David Harsanyi… will move to the Post’s op-ed pages. …

Harsanyi, who joined The Post’s staff in May 2004, in part to provide some ideological balance to [former columnist Diane] Carman and then-columnist Jim Spencer, has done his job well, Moore said. Often offering a libertarian “live and let live” take on the policies and practices emanating from city hall and the statehouse, he also has roamed the city for interesting tales of regular folks rubbing up against unforgiving bureaucracies or just plain silliness, Moore said.

His new book, “Nanny State,” is a critique of efforts by local, state and federal governments to regulate numerous aspects of our lives.

I am a bit worried about the phrase, “op-ed pages.” Does that mean that Harsanyi will have no input in the paper’s editorials? Whether or not he helps decide and write the content of editorials, will he write frequent articles under his own name? If the purpose of the move is to balance out the Post’s often-shrill left-wing politics, then that’s great. But I hope the point is not to limit Harsanyi’s voice on the paper.

Meanwhile, William Porter will write a column for the news side. He promises, “I plan to write slice-of-life columns about Denver and the state. No screeds. No term papers. Stories.” In other words, he plans to write non-ideological soap-opera-style stories. That’s great — that means that I can safely ignore yet another section of the paper. But we’ll see if his columns in fact become ideological pitches that pretend not to be.

Religious Mountain News

Diana Hsieh writes that “tithing [as] a subject of public discussion in a well-respected national newspaper still floors me.” Yet at least a letter to the editor is in the editorial section. The Rocky Mountain News, whether by design or by accident, seems to be pandering to religious readers more often in news articles.

For example, I recently quoted a News article that begins, “Kristi Burton was just 13 when she asked God for guidance and got it.” Whether or not the author of the article actually believes that Burton received guidance from God, the line taken at face value presumes that she did.

Here’s another example:

Lotto win forestalls foreclosure
The Gazette
Originally published 12:30 a.m., November 27, 2007
Updated 11:50 a.m., November 27, 2007

As the Bible says: “Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

Gloria Aguda, of Fountain, said she prayed to God for help, facing foreclosure and mounting bills. She won the jackpot in the Nov. 21 Lotto drawing, worth approximately $9 million.

The article, credited to the Gazette, appeared on the Rocky’s web page (though I’m not sure whether it also appeared in print). Again, taken at face value, the opening suggests that God played some role in the jackpot (which is ridiculous even from a religious perspective).

The Rocky has also reported on various occasions that victims of various accidents and tragedies thanked God for a relatively good outcome. However, the Rocky has not once mentioned why God allowed the tragedies in the first place, nor why others who pray to God nevertheless suffer worse outcomes.

I for one read the news to learn about the news — not to read gratuitous and frankly silly references to God.