Orcas Issues States Election Season Policy
Readers who scroll down the sidebar (Patience, please, a redesign is coming this spring) will find a link “About” that describes the guiding spirits behind Orcas Issues, News and Views. It reads, in part, Orcas Issues “promotes internet citizen journalism that adheres to journalistic ethics of accuracy, accessibility and transparency and to editorial ethics of impartiality, fairness, courage and questioning. Through the Orcas Issues model, citizen journalists and contributors are monitored by editors, with all participants responsible for a new model of journalistic notice, debate and depth.”
This political season, with a primary election in February, a court challenge, and a general election in April deciding who will seat on our new, three-member County Council, has stirred civic involvement and discourse to a new level. The editorial staff at Orcas Issues questions: “Is the publication of letters and comments furthering this “new model of journalistic notice, debate and depth”?”
In last week’s straw poll (another sidebar feature) 49 percent of poll respondents completed the statement “I find the tone of our current county election… is getting too over-the-top in personal attacks.”
We concur. At Orcas Issues, we pride ourselves on being fair, airing views from differing viewpoints and providing background and depth to shared issues. We believe that politics is the art of keeping people happy while implementing your vision for the greater community AND that all politics is personal.
We also feel duty-bound to the community to set a standard for respectful communication that encourages engagement.We believe that, as a community, county residents are intelligent and kind enough to state our opinions, preferences and conclusions in a way that allows for a back-and-forth of opinions. The alternative is often disengaging in disgust. We also respect that people may decline to answer continued charges.
Recently, some of the letters we’ve received have more the tone of a personal vendetta and inconsiderate domination.
With the intention of providing a forum for respectful political discussion in this election season, Orcas Issues is implementing some policies to keep the letters and commentary informative, considerate and thereby engaging:
- We re-state our policy that all comments and letters be signed with the full name and not with a pseudonyms;
- We will remove comments, and not publish letters containing statements that we know to be factually untrue;
- We will limit comments to one response per post, and will remove additional comments from the same person
- We will allow Council candidates to respond to each others’ statements and to comment on these exchanges more than one time if they choose to do so; we will restrict all others to one comment as stated above.
It may be difficult to separate the person from the policies, but our frustration and anger must be tempered by respect … and kindness. In all these policies, we ask that our readers and contributors respect the standards that we have set for Orcas Issues to “adhere to journalistic ethics of accuracy, accessibility and transparency” and beyond that, to address our audience, including opponents, in a tone of respect, if not geniality.
Whatever the election outcome, moving on, we have to work with each other. That will be possible only if we view debate and discussion as something we are building together, not tearing down each others’ walls as fast and emphatically as we can.