Monday November 24, 2014

An echo of the community

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A community newspaper is something of an echo, especially in material printed on opinion pages. It is in this forum members of the community can voice their opinions, good and bad, on a wide variety of topics.

Through letters to the editor readers state their views, but not all readers have the ability or the courage to put their opinions into writing.

Those readers are often verbal however, in stating their views. They are the ones who will phone the newsroom, pigeonhole a reporter or editor on the street, or simply vent during interaction at a social occasion.

It is these encounters that sometimes provide the fodder for local editorials.

Editorials are usually written by the editor of a community newspaper. In larger newspapers, editorials are drafted by an editorial board where a number of individuals have input into what topics are tackled and how the editorials are worded.

The process is more informal in a community newspaper newsroom. Especially when a topic is of a sensitive nature locally, it is important for reporters to be distanced from editorial opinion. They need to maintain their contacts in the community and overt criticism with their names attached would make their jobs difficult.

The editor, on the other hand, is steeled to accept resulting backlash when an unpopular opinion is expressed. Such response is not to be taken personally, and is reflective of a healthy exchange of ideas and opinion.

The reporters are the ones out in the community, however, and they are the ones hearing those comments and questions mentioned earlier. And a newsroom is a lively place. There is a constant exchange of ideas and observations and discussion about what is being talked about in the community.

Our newsroom doesn’t always agree with an opinion expressed in a letter to the editor, but they are selected for publication to promote free speech and encourage dialogue.

Free speech and dialogue are the foundations of a democratic society. We strive to uphold those ideals.

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