Salon readers weigh in on how to strengthen an independent, post-election media.

By Salon Staff
Published November 12, 2004 7:54PM (EST)

[Read "We Won't Give In," by David Talbot.]

Thank you for your words of solace and for Salon. I found you again after a couple of years away during the last days of the campaign, and was so impressed by the voices here that I immediately got my membership and sent one to my wife. And I will take your advice to heart, and not give up.

I appreciate all of your articles on the human condition, but the need for rational coverage of our democracy is crucial now in a way it wasn't before. Lies are constant, truth is in short supply, and fear rules. As a member of the military, I know I'm in a tiny minority who doesn't live in a FOX News, "Matrix"-like dream world. I know I will leave the service before my brothers and sisters in arms see the truth about this administration. But, once out of uniform, I will be on the doorstep of the local Democratic Party asking how to help. And I'm a red-state resident. Thanks again for your efforts to restore journalism to a place of honesty, insight, and trust.

-- Name Withheld

I just discovered Salon.com, and intend to buy a Premium membership with a membership gift to my daughter.

I was just reading "We Won't Give In" by David Talbot, however, and was concerned by the reference to "both blue-state and red-state America." I've seen similar references lately, from a number of sources.

I just took a quick look at the election results again. While Texas was strongly for Bush, the other red states I looked at had Bush winning by a slim margin. Even in Texas, a third of the voters didn't like Bush. That's a lot of people. While the country is sharply divided, I believe it's a mistake to treat that division as though it really were along state lines.

I'm beginning to sense an attitude that Bush somehow owns the red states, and that the blue states are somehow anti-Bush. Bush has already shown that he is willing to punish areas that didn't go his way in the first election. If NYC had voted for him in 2000, I'm convinced it would have received far greater support from him after 9/11 than it did. We don't need to crystallize in his mind, or our own, a red-state versus blue-state division, and I use the word versus deliberately. As Bush continues to create controversy, I'm very concerned about any American viewing entire states as "the enemy." In most states, blue or red, only a relatively small percentage of opinions need to be changed for that state to "change color."

Please, don't fall into the trap of seeing an artificial red/blue state division. It stems from a useful visual for TV news and Internet pages to track the electoral vote count. Promoting it as though it were real can only make matters worse. It's important to recognize, respond to, and reach out to the diversity of opinion that exists within each state.

-- Diane Schips

In the run-up to the election Salon got increasingly hyperbolic. The idea was that since you were on the right side any sort of poor writing was OK since it was in the cause.

And maybe that was true. But we have four more years now. Writing that puts ideology ahead of good writing isn't what initially drew me to Salon, and if it continues, you won't keep me.

Remember: You are a source of information with a political bias, not a source of political bias that also provides information.

Plus you missed the news big-time: Kerry never had a chance in hell. I'm not sure how you helped by distorting this basic truth. But your reason would have to somehow be bigger than the truth and that's not possible.

-- Ian Raskin

I recently read a letter to the editor from a reader who missed "the old Salon," and felt overwhelmed by the political coverage of Salon.com lately. As a recent subscriber, I feel exactly the opposite.

Don't get me wrong. Salon's coverage of culture, films, and television is always entertaining, but in the desert that has become national political coverage, Salon has become a critical source for information and dissemination of political events.

I'm not suggesting that Salon become The Nation, but I believe that one of the reasons people have become alienated from political talk in this country is that they haven't had a source that allows them to combine politics with their lives. An outlet like Salon, full of intelligent, witty and combative writers, is a rarity in the spin backwash that has become the mainstream media, and it would be a shame to see something so important, namely a discussion of the political direction of this country, become lost because "the election's over, and we lost."

I teach a media class and have used Salon as an example of everything from spin deconstruction to detailed reportage and opinion pieces. Again, I love the culture writing and arts coverage, so please keep it up. But it would be a shame if you felt like you had to choose between one and the other.

That's not the world we live in, is it?

Keep up the good work, but please keep writing about politics and this errant administration. It's needed now more than ever.

-- John Kim

Believe me, I did not vote for George W. and I am not looking forward to the next four years and the use of his dubious "political capital." But Salon's editorial "We Won't Give In" encapsulated some things that have concerned me about your Web site.

I have been reading Salon.com regularly for the last four years and began subscribing as soon as that option was available. I've read Salon because it publishes intellectually stimulating articles in many areas: religion, arts, politics, health, sex and many others. The coverage has been challenging and fairly evenhanded throughout the years. There are articles I disagree with and articles that affirm my thinking. Both are valuable in helping me understand the world and where I can best put my time and energy.

Yet with all that said, I am considering canceling my subscription because in the past year or year-and-a-half it seems to me that Salon has taken a decisive swing to the left. Coverage of the arts, religion, health, sex and life has gotten less and less while political coverage has grown significantly. And much of this coverage has, shall we say, a decidedly "Democratic" slant.

Being a Democrat myself, I appreciate many of your articles and way you look at things. However, there is another side to every viewpoint and a wise and literate reader would do well to listen and hear that other viewpoint out. Your coverage concerns me in that increasingly it seems across the board solely anti-Republican, anti-Christian, anti-mainstream ... anti-etc.

I don't need a liberal alternative to the Drudge Report and the Limbaugh Letter -- I need to hear a forum of civil discourse from many sides of many issues. Please don't lose what made Salon.com great in the first place -- a true gathering place of many different viewpoints on many different areas of life.

-- Nathan Johnson

I just joined Salon today in a fit of activist fury after a few days of really dark post-election depression.

I'm 28, a former criminal defense attorney and current social services provider. I live in Brooklyn. On the night of the election I spoke with friends on both coasts and drank beer with others sitting in my living room. I felt a deep sense of fear that we, as a group, were out of sync with the middle in a way that irresolvable. I talked to young attorneys making six-figure salaries who felt truly helpless. I spoke with friends from across the country who'd won personal battles with cancer, AIDS, rape, poverty, racism, abandonment and felt that this isolation was the one battle they couldn't win.

At first, I felt that way too. Now I feel the need to fight, to understand where we went wrong and to build a more successful progressive infrastructure which parallels the one that the Republicans have been building for years.

Your editorial made me feel like others were thinking the same way, and hopefully we can begin to move forward, and use our strength to move our country toward a brighter future.

-- Amy Albert

Salon Staff

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