Strong opinions are worth fighting for


We’ve heard from a number of readers over the past few months who expressed anxiety and concern about what might happen to the views on these pages if our parent company, Freedom Communications, were sold. We hope they are as pleased as we are at the news Tuesday that Freedom will remain in family control. That means the preservation of the heritage of Freedom’s founder, R.C. Hoiles, and the particular libertarian philosophy he shaped.

The company’s board of directors signed a definitive agreement with two investment banking firms to recapitalize Freedom and provide liquidity — a way to cash out stock — to certain family shareholders.

The movement toward a company sale or other resolution of a simmering family disagreement began more than a year ago. At the time, one of this company’s 7,000 employees observed, “This is a company worth fighting for.”

At Freedom Communications’ core are the founder’s values and a political philosophy that are articulated each week on the editorial pages of the three New Mexico papers Freedom owns: the Clovis News Journal, the Portales News-Tribune and the Quay County Sun in Tucumcari, and in Freedom newspapers throughout the country.

Our opinion pages are a throwback to the days when these pages in American newspapers represented the strong views of the owner. (The opinions also are expressed independently of our newsgathering operations.) In contrast, many newspapers today talk about “all the views of the world” and seek to present “a forum of ideas.” Their political philosophy can best be described as “centrist pragmatist,” a squish of ideas of left and right — or whatever works for the issue and the moment. Some editorial boards vote on their positions. Some are deliberately set up with members from the left and right. Some even include “community members” in an attempt to represent the views of “the community,” as if two or three people can represent those views. They often simply reflect the dominant liberal view of the world or the values of their marketplace.

We are definitely different. We come at the world with an idea and a mission, to advance human liberty. Our editorial board discussions usually center on how to best and consistently apply our principles: What are the competing values? What is the highest value in this issue? The mitigators? Aggravators?

Among the principles that animate our discussions: respect for the individual, limited government (When was the last time you asked yourself, “What is the role of government in my life?” “In society?”), opportunity in free markets, an individual’s private property rights, low taxation and responsibility for one’s own conduct.

These principles have been consistently applied since R.C. Hoiles bought the Clovis News Journal in 1935 and Freedom bought the Portales and Tucumcari papers in 1997. They have contributed to shaping our communities because they emphasize private solutions before public ones, and lower taxes, which encourages business entrepreneurship and developing privately owned housing for all rungs of the housing ladder.

In recent months, among other topics our editorial pages have questioned the constitutionality of a preventive military strike against Iraq while hailing the commitment and courage of our troops and their families; and sounded off against Amendments 1 and 2, which give the state ever-more control over our children’s education and what used to be the Land Grant Permanent Fund.

In politics, the arguments and a fearless debate do matter — they detect overlooked issues, they clarify the dialogue, they change the outcome for the better.

If R.C. Hoiles had one bright shining moment in his publishing legacy, it was in 1943, when he editorialized in his flagship paper, The Orange County Register in California, against the internment of Japanese-Americans, one of only two newspapers in the nation we know of to take such a position and certainly the only one situated where the danger seemed highest. He found it hard to believe that so many people coming to work here and make a life would have as their purpose the destruction of the freedoms they sought.

Strong guiding principles, strong opinions. It is, indeed, a company worth fighting for.


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