Here in Franklin County, many people rely on the County Courier to provide weekly perspective on regional, and some national, news.
Lately, many readers have been disappointed to find more and more articles gleaned from national right wing sources creeping into the pages of the Courier, generally without vetting or balance, and occasionally without complete disclosure of the source.
The latest salvo in this partisan information attack came in the form of a new policy by the Courier concerning “Letters to the Editor” in advance of the 2016 elections. Only letters from incumbent legislators will be allowed unlimited inclusion in the paper. Anyone else writing about the election, including opposition candidates, will be limited to a single letter of 100 words or less. That leaves incumbents with plenty of opportunity to attack their opponents and the opponents almost none for setting the record straight.
Of course, since 10 out of the twelve incumbent legislators are Republican, it’s pretty clear which party this policy is designed to favor.
I hope our own readers will consider adding their voices to the protests against this biased policy. Here at GMD, we are an unashamedly biased source of opinion, as befits a blog; but the Courier claims to be a newspaper and should limit its bias to clearly identified editorial content.
Here is the Courier’s email contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
And here follows my own letter to the editor:
Years back, I would routinely pick-up a copy of the Courier because I appreciated the depth of its coverage of local news. Those days are long gone, and the Courier has evolved into an organ of right-wing propaganda, reproducing nationally generated material of questionable accuracy and decided bias without appropriate disclaimers.
That transition is now complete with the announcement of the Courier’s new policy on letters concerning the 2016 election campaign. While challenging candidates and their supporters are limited to one letter of 100 words for the duration of the campaign, incumbent candidates are allowed virtually unlimited access to the forum.
Given that the Franklin County delegation is almost entirely Republican, as of now, the opposition voice is effectively repressed by your policy. This is a disservice to your readers and to County interests in general.
Consider, in contrast, the habits of the St. Albans Messenger, which prints virtually all letters that are minimally civil, no matter what the point of view. The Messenger is fulfilling its vital traditional role as a community forum, choosing only to limit letters in the last week of an election campaign, when the volume threatens to overwhelm other content. At that point, they simply give a cut-off date for new submissions related to the election. No preference is given to incumbents and their supporters.
Please recommit to your obligation toward the public good and restore the integrity of our County Courier.