The reader pointed out this column often uses the term "independent newspaper," but he doesn't recall "reading any benefits for this other than allowing the Blethen family to use the paper to broadcast its views by hiring writers who share their beliefs." He added that's what is done with other national newspapers, "so I do not understand the harping on the independent paper issue."
I asked a handful of people in the newsroom to consider the question, and came up with an array of responses. I told them I wouldn't quote them individually, but would aggregate their comments. Here goes:
Independent, as we use it, means freedom from control or influence of others. It applies whether we're talking about the relationship of the press to government or the ability of journalists to do their work without pressure from any special interest.
Given the hardball tactics the Blethens have used both internally in Washington and Maine newsrooms and their respective communities, I'll take "corporate" journalism any time over the "independent" variety. Besides, how are the terms defined and what do they really mean?
The Times has recently been announcing waves of layoffs, do you really believe anybody in the newsroom will speak openly about editorial pressure? How much comes from Frank Blethen or from editors and staffers?