EDITORIAL: We stand by our front page piece

Thank you to those who wrote to us about our September 16 editorial "Why this Government should go".
The decision to editorialise, and on the front page, was always likely to attract controversy, but I confess to being unprepared for some of the unpleasant suggestions I have received in the past five days.
I have been labelled a religious bigot, a homophobe, a puppet of the National Party and an irresponsible idiot. I am none of those.
The editorial (which has provoked as many compliments as complaints) drew fire from some who condemned the opinion and charged us with trying to manipulate voters, with the editorial timed to prevent any right of reply. It should have been signed, they said. It should have been balanced.
One teacher told us that even her young charges understood better than the editor that opinion doesn't belong on the front page.
But I defend what we did, and on all counts.
To those who claimed we were attempting to manipulate voters, I do not share your contempt for the intelligence of our readers, neither am I so conceited as to believe there can be such an expectation. As with the election-eve promises of politicians, readers could take it or leave it.
Editorials don't need to show "balance" any more than each side of a debating team needs to weigh the cons and pros. It was unsigned because it was an "editorial" and identified as such. A few have disingenuously asked who "we" was in "We Say", but overlook the fact that the vast majority of editors don't sign their editorials.

We routinely sign ours, but when an issue is of particular importance, I reserve the right, as editor, to invoke a convention that commits this newspaper to a point of view.
That happened when we thanked readers for their response to our blood donor campaign. And it happened when we criticised the treatment of a woman trying to prevent her daughter's killer receiving compensation. If we consider that the issue is important enough, why shouldn't our view be up front?
It is convenient to attribute passionate criticism of Labour to a crypto-Tory conspiracy, but it was no such thing. Editorially, this newspaper is politically independent. Any government which at a local level fails to attend to those things it needs to, and at national level meddles unrelentingly in those things it needn't, would attract just the same criticism.
There was good reason for the timing. What we did was highly unusual for a modern daily. While most newspapers owe their provenance to pushing a political ideology, these days very few take a politically uncompromising stand.
A fleeting temptation to court notoriety by publishing our editorial several days in advance of the election - in time for it to be picked up by other media - yielded to a sobering concern about the possible risk of Hawke's Bay Today being paraded as darling by National Party supporters. We reject being identified with any political party.
I appreciate there will be those with strong and enduring affiliations with Labour and who were offended by our editorial. We respect their opinions, just as we would expect them to respect ours.
However, those who flail us for our temerity in listing the faults of the Government might more usefully reflect on the real reasons for Labour's regional slump than attack a newspaper that so accurately anticipated the mood of its constituency.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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