I worked for a few months at a large newspaper in Germany, where reporters wear their politcal beliefs on their sleeves. They are encouraged to include opinions in print. At first I agreed with my colleagues that it was idiotic for U.S. newspapers to expect jorunalists to check their beliefs at the door each morning. But then I realized that German newspapers are politically balkanized. They split off to cater to their own political beliefs -- if you are conservative, but the Muenchner Merkur, those on the left buy the SZ, those who like photos of football players and topless fraulein buy Bild.
More and more, I like the idea of newspapers attempting to respect/acknowledge the full spectrum of political beliefs in the communities we cover. With any luck, our stories will be able to provide enough objective new information to advance readers' understanding of an issue.
I didn't take Steve's memo as a threat. It just seemed like a warning for us not to be stupid. I could spout off here about wolves or forestry issues, but I might have to write something on these topics next week and it really sucks when a source slams the phone down after hearing the name of the reporter.
I would be against a strict policy on commenting online. I guess it's up to reporters to deomonstrate we don't need one ... One thing I do think we should adopt from my old newspaper in Munich, though, is beer vending machines. They were scattered throughout the building (70 cents a bottle) and editors frequently brought a case of cold ones to the afternoon news meetings. Really lightened things up.