Casino Redux: The ProJo Position Gets Curiouser and Curiouser

Hopefully, this will be my last Casino post for a while (but ya never know…) I was driving home from work and heard the Providence Phoenix’s Ian Donnis talking to Dan Yorke about the curious ProJo flip-flop on the casino. As Ian noted, Dan had covered the issue at length (and I had a few comments of my own).
In particular, Ian was remarking on ProJo’s explanation as to why it flipped, which was available only on-line, and briefly at that. He was kind enough to point listeners (and readers, here’s Ian’s piece–updated 11/10/08) to Anchor Rising and my post commenting on the ProJo’s non-explanation. For posterity, I’ve included the entire ProJo explanation in the extended entry.

Here’s the ProJo’s “missing” explanation as to why it decided to support the Narragansett / Harrah’s Casino:
Editorial mysteries
01:00 AM EST on Thursday, November 2, 2006
People still read newspapers! We present as proof the recent rumpus over “Allow a third casino,” our Oct. 22 editorial in favor of Question 1 on the Nov. 7 Rhode Island ballot. The question would permit the Narragansett Indian Tribe, partnering with Harrah’s, to put up a casino in West Warwick.
We’re glad that people are engaged in such issues, and we hope that citizens are looking at the arguments of both sides. (This can be difficult, of course, because people naturally want to see views that reinforce what they already feel and think: It’s less anxiety-provoking.)
There has been much speculation, including many colorful conspiracy theories, about why the paper took its pro-casino position. That position, we emphasize, was made here in Providence, and not in Dallas, at the headquarters of Belo Corp., which owns The Journal. It’s very much a local issue.
The editorial speaks for itself, but we repeat here that the prospect of more jobs for Rhode Islanders, especially for hard-pressed low-income people, including immigrants, was the overwhelming factor.
Certainly the other side has had its say before and after the editorial: Anti-casino letters and op-eds have considerably outnumbered pro-casino pieces on these pages — by far more than the percentage by which the antis have outnumbered the pros in recent polls. That probably reflects that people are generally far more energized by opposition than support.
(We’d also observe that there have been large exaggerations on both sides of the issue on the impact that the casino would have on our area.)
The controversy also demonstrated considerable public confusion about how editorials come to be written and published. The editorial board of The Journal (and those of other U.S. metropolitan newspapers) reports to the publisher, who runs the company. Editorial writers come up with ideas to write about, those ideas are discussed and, truth be told, most then get into print — after editing, of course! (We agree more often than not.)
Meanwhile, the editorial-page editor and deputy editorial-page editor, besides writing editorials that they conceive of, or the publisher assigns them to write, work with page designers, to produce the two Commentary pages we publish every day.
Members of the editorial board freely express their opinions to the publisher and their colleagues on the board, but the publisher, as the leader of the business called The Providence Journal, is the arbiter of what will appear in the editorials. That’s because these unsigned essays are meant to represent the views of the company as an institution. They are not like signed columns.
Editorial writing occurs in a collegial setting, but is not a democracy — any more than any other business. What is infused by a democratic spirit, however, is the very wide range of opinions that we strive to publish on these pages, and in, every day. Thus, on a good day, we can be sure that brickbats will come in from all directions for what we publish.

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