Oh, the opinion page is biased for sure. And that's the point.
Social media lit up Sunday with accusations of "bias!" following our endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. Donald Trump supporters jammed our phone lines with complaints arguing that, through its support for Clinton, the Quad-City Times has somehow exposed itself as a Democratic "rag."
Newspapers are supposed to be "unbiased," they yell. Others went so far as to allege some conspiracy, accusing us of taking cash from the Clinton campaign. That whole "rigged" thing just won't go away.
In reality, the editorial board determined it was important to take a hard-line stand for certain American principles that are very much under assault.
The fact is, this presidential election is unlike anything seen by most of the national press corps. At present, just one large daily newspaper has endorsed Trump, and that's the Las Vegas Review-Journal, purchased this past year by billionaire GOP booster Sheldon Adelson. Dozens of high-ranking Republican office holders have disavowed Trump.
Interestingly, none of these gripes were heard earlier this month when the Times endorsed several Republicans for state and local offices. They were, in the editorial board's estimation, superior candidates to their opponents. After much discussion, we reached the same conclusion about Clinton.
But let's talk about the allegations of unreasonable bias. They're wrong. And here's why.
There are three divisions within the Times newsroom: News, sports and opinion.
News is ethically bound to the pursuit of objectivity. In a perfect world, the only bias one should find in good news reporting is that which upholds fact. There are, of course, human limitations at play, but the ethical ideal remains the goal.
The sports department does a fantastic job covering preps and college sports.
Then, there's my section.
Newspapers have endorsed in presidential elections for more than a century. Editorial boards often sit with the candidates. They ask pointed questions. We endorse in races ranging from school board to president. In the coming days, the Times will be endorsing in two U.S. Senate races after talking with each of the candidates.
Part of my job, one I take exceedingly seriously, is to protect the wall that segregates news and opinion. The same goes for the editors in the newsroom. It's the rope from which our very credibility hangs.
Today's new media environment has, in too many cases, torn down the wall between news and opinion. I read any number of websites daily that, at their very core, meld straight news with a pronounced point of view. It's true for Fox News and Huffington Post, alike. Traditional media has, through the decades, learned the failings of that system. It wasn't too long ago that magnates, such as Adelson, would buy the local daily and turn it into a personal soap box. That's why my work is clearly marked "Opinion." And any opinion section that dishonestly panders to its most vocal segments of readers isn't worth the paper on which it's printed.
I've done my job on any given day, so long as some readers questioned pre-conceived notions after reading the Times Opinion page. I'm constantly reassessing my beliefs, thanks to a regular back and forth with readers through email and phone calls.
Debate makes people think. There's a place for opinion in news. The key is that it's clearly labeled as such. I'll gladly run your letters -- your biases -- telling us why we're wrong.
From the conservative Wall Street Journal to the liberal New York Times, newspapers do a respectable job separating news from opinion. The Clinton endorsement matters little to the reporters in the field. Nor should it.
Bias is my job. It's been the job of editorial writers for generations.
Yes, bias lives openly here on the Opinion page. If only other news outlets were so honest.
Jon Alexander is editorial page editor at the Quad-City Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org