Manchester (Conn.) Journal Inquirer managing editor Chris Powell was blasted earlier this week after he wrote that “newspapers cannot sell themselves to households headed by single women who have several children by different fathers, survive on welfare stipends, can hardly speak or read English, move every few months to cheat their landlords, barely know what town they’re living in, and couldn’t afford a newspaper subscription even if they could read.”
The Hartford Courant said “this rant is unworthy of responsible journalism.” It’s “off-base on many levels,” added Matt DeRienzo.
Will Bunch put Powell down “as Exhibit A for exactly how NOT to save newsrooms.”
Kirsten Lambertsen nominated the managing editor “for @WhiteWhine of the month. Make that, the year.”
What does Powell have to say about his critics and the online reaction to his column?
“Well, for starters, I was surprised to find myself becoming so important,” he tells Romenesko readers. “After all, the world is full of opinions, including wacky ones, so what makes the opinion of an editor in Connecticut who is of no particular renown so deserving of criticism nationally? If my opinion is so wacky, why bother with it? Hell, the federal government has just been incapacitated. Aren’t there a few more important things to upset commentators?”
He says he never blamed welfare mothers for the decline of the newspaper business.
Rather, I correlated the decline of the newspaper business — the decline of the news business generally, really — with the social disintegration all around us, and cited quite a few examples, including the collapse of public education and participation in elections. The disintegration represented by childbearing outside marriage, a frequent topic in my writing, was a prominent example because it underlies so much of the social disintegration generally, as it is child abuse and neglect. Even the liberal-originating social science has been confirming this lately.
Many single mothers took the now-infamous paragraph of criticism about welfare mothers as an attack on them, but the paragraph criticized only WELFARE mothers in some VERY SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES.
Powell says he’s not surprised by the “abusive” emails and calls that the Journal Inquirer received after his column went viral. “That’s always the case when there’s controversy and when people don’t have to identify themselves,” he writes in an email. “More disappointing to me is the continuing general refusal to recognize the social disintegration.”
Will he address his critics in a future column?
There’s a possibility, he says, “but I can live with letting the column speak for itself. ….Besides, while criticism can sting, my 15 minutes of fame will be up today or tomorrow.”
* Journal Inquirer editor says newspapers can’t sell themselves to dysfunctional families (jimromenesko.com)