Speaking up about Speak Up | CraigDailyPress.com

Speaking up about Speak Up

Earlier this month, the Craig Daily Press launched a feature meant to stimulate public discourse. It did.

Speak Up, which appears Tuesdays in the Opinion pages, allows callers to express their views anonymously. Through Speak Up, readers have weighed in on everything from the proposed Wal-Mart to short skirts at high school events.

Some readers have praised Speak Up. For some, the promise of anonymity is empowering. It offers protection to readers who, because of their position or job, might never utter their views publicly.

Other readers have criticized the new feature, asserting it promotes negativity and allows people to hide. People who aren’t willing to endure the unpleasantness of speaking their minds shouldn’t be protected by anonymity, some readers say.

Some readers were angered that we published a Speak Up item accusing a reporter of giving more press to a high school volleyball player at the expense of her team members. The concern was that we published the young girl’s name, unfairly involving her in a dispute among adults.

We listened to that concern. With all new features in newspapers, there’s a learning curve. Would we name the girl again? Probably not.

We support all school sports and admire the athletes who rise to the top. By printing the athlete’s name, we learned that a young athlete’s hard work and commitment can be bittersweet if we’re not sensitive. The purpose of the Speak Up item was to publish criticism of our efforts, certainly not to diminish the accomplishments of a great volleyball team.

Would we run the criticism of the paper and its reporters again? Yes, though after a review, we don’t believe the accusation is true.

Although some readers would like to see Speak Up silenced, we would rather err on the side of free-flowing information. Often, those who can offer the most insight to public issues, such as governmental workers, refrain from speaking out for fear of retaliation by their employers. It’s especially important that we not censor critics of the Craig Daily Press. We never want to be accused of silencing our critics.

The intent of Speak Up is not to aid readers in carrying out grudges against neighbors or to lower the level of public discourse into malicious gossip. Rather, we hope Speak Up elevates and enlightens public discussion. We also hope readers participate.

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