Archived Opinion

Trying to tell all sides of the story

Trying to tell all sides of the story

Sorry to burst your bubble but this is not a high-quality newspaper. Your version of journalism is laughable at best. Predominantly promoting leftist views and pushing a leftist agenda is not what I would call journalism but propaganda. But I will compliment you on allowing opposing voices a chance to comment and reply to your leftist leaning tripe. 

The paragraph above was in response to a column I wrote back in June regarding the 23rd anniversary of starting The Smoky Mountain News. I was reading back issues from 2022 in preparation for some kind year in review column but decided instead to use this week to delve into this reader’s comments. It’s the kind of backhanded compliment that you must learn to appreciate in a business where you don’t get much positive feedback.

That column’s headline was “There’s still a market for good journalism,” and in it I discussed how the business model for newspapers — and journalism as a whole — has changed dramatically since we published our first edition back in June 1999 when there was very little news online. I argued that SMN does pretty solid journalism, and that helps us succeed as a business. Sure, we get it wrong sometimes, but — like any reputable news organization, and there are more than a few of them in this region — we’ll admit mistakes and work to correct them. 

That June column was mostly about how we have searched for new ways to keep this business alive, finding different revenue streams and even asking for donations from those who can afford it and who appreciate having free local news and the work we do to inform people about government and regional issues. 

To both our advertisers and those who contribute, thank you very much. 

But the journalism standards we adhere to is what made that comment above stand out. Those standards include being dogged but fair in our news stories, but also allowing plenty of space for opposing views. For example, back in May 2022 when we wrote about Rep. Mark Pless introducing a bill to make all municipal elections partisan, we made sure to get his comments and those who opposed him in the paper. In fact, in that very edition where my column attracted the comment above, Waynesville Alderman Jon Feichter published a letter critical of Pless’ bill. 

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That commitment to publishing opposing views is standard fare in most legitimate news organizations, unlike what most of us hear from the opinionated talking heads on CNN or Fox. They bring in “guests” who parrot their own views and then go down the rabbit hole of a one-sided discussion that usually demonizes opponents. It’s ridiculous to call that fair or objective, but hey, there’s a market for what those television personalities do. Those folks make millions a year and influence Washington lawmakers to do their bidding. 

Trying to tell all sides of a story is sometimes a long-term process. For instance, I’ll bet we’ve written 20 stories this year on the affordable housing crisis in our region. It’s such a complicated and convoluted issue that once one story is done, someone would suggest we delve into another angle or one of our reporters would pick up on something from a source that would add another layer to the issue. 

And then there’s the whole opinion about opinions. Often, we get criticized for leaning left. Guilty. I’m a registered Independent, but on most political issues I steer left. But I also appreciate nuanced political debate and will always publish letters and guest columns from those who disagree. Don’t like what you read on our opinion pages, then please send me your opinion. 

Which brings me back around to the comment from the reader who disagrees. She’s a serial commenter on our website, so she must read every issue. And she noticed that we publish comments from those who disagree. I’ll take that as evidence that our goal to be a community forum for all opinions that don’t hit people below the belt is sometimes noticed — even by those who disagree. 

(Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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  • The drama surrounding Representative Elect George Santos from Long Island, along with learning that a local Long Island newspaper assigned an investigative reporter to research his background reminded me of the fulsome value of local news outlets. It inspired me to make a financial donation to SMN and to be part of the solution to keep local news outlets in business. Happy new year.

    posted by Teri D

    Monday, 01/02/2023

  • I'm a huge fan of this newspaper, and get a letter published in it, every so often. I am very proud this area gets a publication so excellent and so open to various comments!
    Just keep keeping on, Scott!

    posted by Rick Wirth

    Thursday, 12/29/2022

  • Scott…,someday we will have a few newspapers that will fairly and equally cover the left, right and in between. Those papers will not be The NY Times, Washington Post or any other so called national press or media. It will be news organizations like the Smoky Mountain News where executives will realize they are better off fairly telling all sides and lettin g readers decide where they will stand. Then watch circulation soar. Readers are not stupid!

    posted by Carol Adams

    Thursday, 12/29/2022

  • You're doing a great job! Don't change a thing.

    posted by Chuck

    Thursday, 12/29/2022

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