Whidbey News Times paints themselves as defenders of “free speech” after choosing to OBLITERATE 300+ On-Line Comments!

Author:BillB

Now, the Whidbey News Times (WNT) has written an editorial christened “Our freedoms include free speech” .

In that editorial, the WNT claims to be defending “free speech” and stated “we are not censoring anyone’s opinion”. However, this editorial comes immediately following their act of TOTAL OBLITERATION of ALL 300+ comments posted in response to ONE letter which THEY THEMSELVES chose to print – a letter which is, quite hypocritically, STILL posted on-line.

Moreover, while the newspaper KNEW that one letter to be factually ERRONEOUS to begin with, based on previous news stories they had run, they chose to use that factually bogus letter directly on the heels of yet another editorial in which the WNT had warned folks that “readers unfortunately can expect to see inaccuracies, distortion and even outright lies” in the newspaper’s Facebook on-line forum.

Apparently, however, it’s perfectly okay for the WNT to print something both in the hard copy and on-line which they themselves ALREADY KNOW to be full of “inaccuracies, distortion and even outright lies”! And then they DEFEND IT after OBLITERATING 100% of the words ALL OTHERS had made in response!

The WNT’s policies and actions both epitomize and glorify journalistic hypocrisy!

 

In this classic Kids in the Hall sketch, Bruce has a fondness for a certain word that his coworkers just don’t appreciate.

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19 comments

  1. avatar

    I find your graphic rather ironic, but otherwise nicely done.

    I also think this may be an agenda to shut down letters to the editor submissions – aka rebuttals to mostly “progressive” editorial comment.

    There are many questions and the Whidbey News-Times needs to answer them. An apology should also be forthcoming. Maturity may be self-censorship to some, but that hurtful letter full of falsehoods should have been spiked and edits requested.

    1. avatar

      I figured a bit of irony (or, maybe, sarcasm) was appropriately befitting of this bizarre episode.

      Maybe the WNT will next simply start publishing completely anonymous letters (which they themselves actually wrote) and then claim they are protecting “confidential sources”. That would be congruent with their recent logic.

      1. avatar

        Could be. Right now, the WNT is probably reconsidering their policies.

        1. avatar

          Here’s one very excellent opportunity for the advertisers to review their policies!

          1. avatar

            This may be a good time to boycott the advertisers.

            It would hurt them in the short run, but I would be happy to then use local businesses who DON’T advertise. This might be the best thing for Whidbey Island.

  2. avatar

    Here’s a positive comment from a friend which was removed by the Whidbey News Times along with the offensive ones in their “one size fits all” liberal-type “selective” attack on free speech and honorable American defenders. I forward this per her request.

    My comment:
    I was married to a naval aviator and lived in Oak Harbor for many years. I raised four daughters by myself when he was deployed for six months at a time. He was killed while on a training flight getting ready to go on yet another deployment to Vietnam. I miss those years as a navy wife and I miss the sound of the jets as they fly over because I know they are
    keeping us safe. I live on the south end of the island now but I still get a thrill when I drive up to Oak Harbor and see those two A-6 planes on display. Keep flying and may God bless you and watch over you.

    1. avatar

      (sarcasm on) Gee, it’s a good thing the Whidbey News Times acted to protect freedom of speech by taking that down. Obviously, there has been no censorship of anyone’s opinion on their part whatsoever. (sarcasm off)

      1. avatar

        You mean like posting the name and address of the editor? I didn’t, but it’s relatively easy to find if you know how to search records.

  3. avatar

    The deletion of 300 comments is absolutely irresonsiblity by the Whidbey News Times.

    What they are telling you by the blanket comment deletion is that we have the staff to write news articles to attract people to our website for our advertisers but we do not have the staff (or the knowledge) to effectively monitor our comments section.

    With this mass deletion the WNT is thumbing their nose at the readers and commenters. They certainly appreciate and benefit from the increase in traffic to their website. The readers have taken the time out of their lives to attempt to comment on their article but the WNT does not have the common decency to take the time to actually read those comments and if necessary remove those that are obviously objectionable.

    Here is what they now state on the page in question:

    “PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Comments on this letter have been closed due to excessive abuse of our Terms of Use, including personal attacks, threats and the publishing of personal information. Our website comments section is for the open and constructive exchange of ideas. Disagreement and debate is always welcome, as long as it remains civil.”

    Interesting that their Terms of Service:
    http://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/terms_of_use/
    Does not mention a thing about deleting valid, thoughtful comments because they do not have the time to actually read those comments…

    They did not censor individual users as ther Terms of Service states they censored eveyone…

  4. avatar

    CORRECTION: Censored all but one.

    And that letter flies at the top of their mast as free as their right of free speech. They first published the letter in poor taste, then removed all comments-which probably would be up to a thousand by now-and left the letter up demonstrating an ethical vacuum. Why? Because the WNT sought to further exploit the liberal instigated confusion exhibited at the previous week’s county commissioner meeting and thus printed a letter submitted by another of Lenin’s Island County benefactors.

    When I was young, sporting much vinegar, and proud to be serving my country, I’ve stepped over lines responding to unwarranted insults to my country, branch, unit, comrades or self. I hope discretion will be exercised in levying penalties for excessive comments made by any proud and passionate members of OUR Navy in this preventable matter.

    WNT: I know you follow Island Politics. Our civilian and military community deserves an apology.

    1. avatar

      Agreed. A full and nonqualified apology.

      1. avatar

        I do believe the WNT was right in publishing her letter whether I agree with her letter or not. It does inform us about some very clueless people that live on the Island. Would you prefer that the WNT censored her letter? I mean really? I read a lot of letters that I disagree with, should they also be censored or not published? Who should make the decision as to what is published or not published?

        Freedom of speach works both ways, if you want this freedom to be truely exercised freely you should welcome her letter as ludicrous as it was.

        What I find appalling is that the WNT censored ALL of the comments because of a few bad apples. They published a controversial letter to the editor and then deleted all of the comments that are rebuttals to her letter. This is not being responsible.

        1. avatar

          I don’t see it responsible to publish blatant slander about the US Navy either not paying taxes or being guests. the rest of the letter was typical anti-noise tripe we see too often from the Coupeville elitists.

          1. avatar

            You call it blatant slander, I consider it the price of free speach in an open society. Those who believe in a strong strict interpretation of the first amendment consider it her opinion which she certainly has a right to state. Right or wrong it is her opinion.

            I don’t believe for one second the ignorate tripe that she wrote is correct, or factual but I do believe she has the right to state it and for the paper to publish it.

            I know you have good intentions in supporting the military here on the Island and your efforts are greatly appreciated but the road to tyranny is paved with good intentions…

            …once we go down the road of controlling others and telling others when they can speak and what they can say and speak about we no longer have freedom of speach we have tyranny and an suppression of our rights reserved to us by our Bill of Rights.

            Unpopular opinions have just as many rights as popular opinions. In that respect I have to give credit to Ms Haglund for having the guts to state her opinion when she had to know it was going to be controversial. I may not like her opinion but I will defend her right to state it with all my resolve.

            1. avatar

              I will just say that newspapers are held to a higher standard than bloggers and given special legal treatment from the US Constitution down to administrative regs. In return, I would expect some editing instead of just spewing.

              Other than that, I concur.

  5. avatar

    Free speech is the first amendment in our constitution. There is a reason for that, because our founding fathers believed it was the most important. You don’t impede free speech because you happen to not like what’s being said you offer an opposing view, that is what free speech is all about.
    This was an opinion piece done by a private citizen, what a responsible journalist would have done is print an opposing view so you have two sides. I believe this would have been a balanced approach and most people would not have been so angry over the article. It has become the norm for newspapers not to print opposing views of a controversial subject. They have become so biased that they present the view of their choice instead of doing their job by presenting all views so the folks can decide.

  6. avatar

    It was really a simple issue that was blown out of proportion by the newspaper.

    It was a controversial opinion. She had a right to state it and the newspaper was in their right to publish it. There are a lot of controversial opinions in the comment sections of newspapers so what is the big deal? There are also many deleted comments in the major newspapers, deleted because they are inappropriate.

    The Whidbey News Times should have done the right thing and that was to delete the comments that were inappropriate and against their terms of service and that should have been the end of it. Instead they through their own ineptitude (or possibly desire) created an issue by deleting all the comments and then making an issue about how they support free speach which as we know is farcical coming from the newspaper which is known for censoring it’s commenters.

    We now have a criminal investigation (supposedly), several articles have been generated by the newspaper on the issue and they have attempted to take the high road by claiming it is the commenters that are at fault.

    Lets be clear. The Whidbey News Times if they decide to have a comment section owes it to the public to run their comment section in a responsible manner. They have not done so.

    They censor their commenters, this is a proven fact. They deleted 300 plus comments because of a few inappropriate comments. They did not take the time to be responsible to their commenters and actually read the comments to determine which ones to delete for violating their TOS instead they deleted them all and then made hay out of it.

    I comment at many newspapers all over the world. I have never seen blanket deletions like this ever, in any newspaper. Yes they delete inappropriate comments, yes they occassionally close the comments on heated subject but to delete all of them?

    You have been had by the ineptitude of our local paper, not Ms. Haglund, not the fact that her opinion was published and not because people made a couple of inappropriate comments.

  7. avatar

    Just as another example as to how inept the Whidbey News Times is about maintaining and managing an on-line presence with any degree of professionalism, back on 31 July 2012 they ran an article entitled Pierzga named publisher of Whidbey’s community newspapers, but as of today, 11 September, 2012, their “About Us” page still lists Marcia Van Dyke as their publisher. Here’s a snapshot of that page taken today.

    The WNT can’t bother in over a month even to update the name of their own publisher? Why not?

    Let’s see how long it takes them to fix that sloppiness after they read that here.

    1. avatar

      Typical for the Whidbey News Times…
      They have also, if I am not mistaken, made very little changes to the rest of their website also.

      Their Terms of service are pathetic examples. The explanation of the way their commenting system works is non existent.

      Here are an example of how a relatively good newspaper handles their commenting system and the information it supplies to it’s commenters about their participation:

      http://www.seattletimescompany.com/notices/notice1.html

      http://seattletimes.com/flatpages/services/commentingfaq.html

      Of course they actually have staff to watch the comments section….

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