News broke today that embattled Auburn beatwriter Evan Woodbery is leaving the Auburn beat to take a similar position in Knoxville covering the Tennessee Volunteers.
There is no need to rehash the Never to Yield Foundation’s issues with Woodbery and his coverage of the Tiger program. Our position on that is clear.
We will also decline the opportunity to play Paul Revere for our Volunteer friends.
Instead, we choose today to renew our call for the newspapers that make up the al.com publishing family to do the right thing.
If the al.com family of newspapers, specifically the Birmingham News, Huntsville Times and Mobile Press-Register, intend to replace Woodbery on the Auburn beat this is a prime opportunity to repair a damaged bridge between the news organizations and a large segment of Auburn fans.
We don’t want a sunshine pumper as our beatwriter. We don’t want a cheerleader in print. What we do demand, however, is that the next Auburn beatwriter bring an objective outlook.
We demand that our next beatwriter seek out the positive just as hard as he or she seeks out the negative.
When Tommy Tuberville left Ole Miss, leaving Rebel fans less than pleased, Auburn was assigned a beatwriter who came over from the Ole Miss beat.
That beatwriter was replaced by the former sports editor of the Crimson White, the campus newspaper of Auburn’s primary rival, a writer who also spent time covering the Alabama beat for another state daily.
Journalists can preach objectivity and absence of bias all day every day, but people are people. We are all subject to our own private emotions, prejudices and history. It is the basic human condition.
In the past few months we’ve seen our state newspapers take a significant hit. The state’s three largest papers have reduced their production schedule and are no longer delivered on a daily basis. Major cuts have been made to the staff at al.com, the online home for those three newspapers.
There is no question that the perception of anti-Auburn bias that permeates al.com and the three major newspapers has driven Auburn fans to other venues.
By doing the right thing Alabama’s major newspapers can take a positive step toward bringing those readers back. We aren’t demanding a superhero to rally the Auburn cause. All we’re asking for, all we demand, is a beatwriter who’s willing to look at any story with an objective, rational eye.
In today’s shrinking marketplace can the state media afford to give us any less?