Editor: We’re not trying to shame lawmakers who voted against anti-discrimination bill

In today’s Morning Report, I said The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead tried to shame lawmakers for voting against a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

That’s wrong, says editor Matthew Von Pinnon.

“We did not do it to shame anyone, as many people are [implying],” he says. “We did it simply to convey the info people wanted to know, no matter which side of the issue they are on. They wanted to know how each lawmaker voted.fargo We shared all votes, including from the Senate, which had earlier narrowly passed the bill.”

The newspaper has received dozens of emails and phone calls, says the editor, “but social media has just blown up over it.” People on Twitter are praising the paper for making “a bold statement for LGBT equality,” and “[calling] out anti-gay reps,” which it’s not doing, according to Von Pinnon.

The editor continues:

Some are saying they will keep the front page for the next election, no matter which side they are on. Some who likely never bought a print paper say they ran out to get this copy so they have it for history or to help them vote next time. One area business even posted the front page near their door and declared those who voted no on the bill will not be admitted (sort of a reversal of the issue).

Who came up with the concept?
“The idea for the cover was born at our afternoon news huddle,” he says. “We started talking about doing a how-they-voted list and it morphed into the picture thing pretty organically. …It was a great team effort, paired with a well-done news story by Capitol correspondent Mike Nowatzki.”

Lawmakers’ reaction?
“From what I’ve heard, the lawmakers seem fine with what we did. They say they are standing by their votes, though they are getting a lot of feedback on it. I’m not sure they expected this kind of attention.”

* PDF of today’s Forum page one (newseum.org)
* Read The Forum’s Facebook page comments about today’s page one (facebook.com)