I loved reading Mike Littwin's column on page two of the Denver Post, and I'm sure lots of people who hate Littwin also loved reading Littwin there. He's one of the best things the newspaper has to offer.
But I agree with the old argument that newspapers will survive in the long run only if they can convince us that they're fair and accurate. That's the niche that might possibly allow them to survive in a blogosphere full of news that you can't trust. Not all of it, of course, but a lot of it.
So, the Post's future depends more on its credibility than the quality of its opinion writers. Not that credibility will pay the Post's bills, but it's part of the equation.
Littwin is a great writer, and he'll still be there. In fact, the Post should put a little note on page two every day for the next year telling readers where to find Littwin.
But a left-leaning political column like Littwin's, surrounded by the news pages, creates the perception that the Post's news content is also biased.
Asked via email why he move Littwin, Post Editor Greg Moore wrote me:
I think it is fairly obvious why Mike is in op-ed. It is a perfect place for the type of column he writes, one we value. I created Page 2 exposure for him and Tina to signal to our broader audience we had embraced two high profile Rocky columnists and frankly I had no place else to put them and give them visibility. I had known for a while that Littwin really was writing an excellent op-ed column and we had achieved what I wanted on page 2. So we made the move.
The move also puts Littwin on the editorial board of the Post, which needs dose of air from the left.
In his debut column from his new location, Littwin didn't sound very hopeful about winning over the editorial board, but at least he'll be there some of the time. Just looking at Littwin might frighten a guy like columnist Vincent Carroll, who is also on the editorial board. Littwin wrote in his column:
They've promised I can skip as many board meetings as I like and that I don't have to wear a tie and I still can go on the road to follow Palin and Huckabee and the rest of the Fox News Republican primary next year, but only after poking as much fun as possible at Mejia, Romer, Boigon, Hancock, Linkhart and everyone else running for the honor of taping the welcome-to-Denver greeting at DIA.
I understand Littwin's sitting in a desk vacated for his arrival by Carrol, who moved to a new seat in the office.
That's the kind of detail that might help people understand what a newspaper's opinion section is supposed to be about.