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The Independent Clause

| February 6, 2013

I’ve received a couple of comments in the last few weeks regarding the article on the Conservation Commission meeting about dogs in Town Forest. It seems some people felt the article was slanted or one-sided. Since a few people felt that way, I thought it would be wise to address this publicly (as well as privately) in case there were others who felt the same.

When we cover a meeting, we are recording what happens at that meeting to share with our readers. We are not looking in depth and doing any kind of investigative piece on a specific issue; we’re simply covering the meeting.

If we are doing a more in-depth piece, we will cover all sides of an issue, looking for input from various sources, along with gathering factual information.

At a meeting, the reporter is simply recording the highlights of what took place, attributing quotes and statements accordingly. If, as in the case of the ConCom meeting, no other sides are presented, other than the ConCom’s response, then no opposing side will be in the article.  Not because we feel one way or another, but because we are only covering what took place at the meeting. And if there are inflammatory remarks or one-sided remarks, then they are attributed to the speaker. We’re not speaking our opinion, we’re reporting what someone said.

As the editor, I am very diligent about asking reporters follow-up questions, especially when there is a “hot” topic at hand. If an article comes in and it’s not clear who said what or whose opinion is whose, I’ll go back to the writer and have them clarify it. They have all heard, at one time or another, things like, “Who said that? Is that your opinion or someone else’s? Make it clear,” as I start red-lining anything that’s not neutral or objective or not attributed specifically. They all enjoy this immensely….

Have we ever stated an opinion somewhere we shouldn’t have? I hope not, but we’re all human, and especially on a late Tuesday night with deadline looming, there’s always the possibility of error. But in this particular case, there were clear attributions and what was presented was simply what happened at the meeting.

Opposing views are welcome in our Letters section.

Category: Clause

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