Whidbey News Times is again censoring comments in their comments section this time they are censoring comments made by an author of a letter to the editor.

Author:Cliff Howard

I thought we had seen it all from the Whidbey News Times but the latest actions by them are unbelievable.

Recently a citizen submitted a letter to the editor to the Whidbey News Times and the News Times published this letter both in the print edition and on their online website.

After the letter was published there were quite a few comments in the comments section at the end of this article. The author of the letter to the editor attempted to explain his letter and defend the ideas he made in his letter to the editor in the comments section when other commenters attacked him and his letter. He was called a “jerk”, a “wing nut”, told his letter was “Again-another twisting of the truth” and much more. When the author of this letter to the editor attempted to defend his letter and the ideas and concepts behind the letter his comments disappeared from the Whidbey News Times website. His comments are now only visible to him.

So here we have a local newspaper accepting for publication a letter to the editor publishing it in the print edition and online edition and then when the author of this letter attempts to defend his letter against comment made in the comments section the Whidbey News Times censors him.

This is a blatent attempt by the Whidbey News Times to censor this individuals comments and control the conversation. Instead of censoring the commenters that made insulting remarks and attacks on the author of this letter the Whidbey News Times censored the author of the letter to the editor. Now when you  view the article all’s you see is dissenting opinions and attacks on the author.

If you review the Term of Use for the Whidbey News Times comments section you will see that the Terms that they use are quite clear. Here are their terms that relate to unacceptable behaviour:

“Without limitation, we reserve the right to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us in our sole discretion”

I would like to point out that the author of the letter to the editors comments are none of the above. While he may have been attempting to opine on an issue that is controversial in no way shape or form was the author using “unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent” language to do so. He was censored for the apparent reason that the Whidbey News Times did not agree with his comments so they deleted all of them. If that is the case why did they publish his letter to the editor in the first place?

I would strongly suggest that anyone who believes in what is right to send a letter to the owner of the Whidbey News Times, Sound Publishing, and let the owners know how our local newspaper treats the commenters in the comments section of our local newspaper. The Whidbey News Times wants to have it both ways in their comments section. While they claim in their Terms of Service “We encourage a free and open exchange of ideas in a climate of mutual respect.” the truth is that they will silence anyone they feel like in their comments section regardless of any published rules.

Here is the address to send your complaints to:

Sound Publishing, Inc. Corporate Office
19351 8th Avenue NE Suite 106 Poulsbo, WA 98370
Tel: (360) 394-5800
Fax: (360) 394-5829

Sound Publishing does have a web form for contacting them located here:
http://www.soundpublishing.com/contact/

I would strongly suggest if you are submitting this online to also follow up with the written snail mailed letter to them.

References:

Whidbey News Times comments showing all comments.

Whidbey News Times comments showing deleted or hidden comments.

Original article at the Whidbey News Times

Tags: , ,

33 comments

  1. avatar

    I have a simple suggestion: TURN THE DAMN FACEBOOK COMMENTS OFF.

    I can’t see the comments sometimes because I’ve been flagged for spam by the progressive agitators so many times. Heck, I even got a screenshot of one of the false flags.

    So if we all can’t play fair and nice, KILL SWITCH PLEASE JESSIE. FLIP IT AND BE DONE WITH IT.

    Thanks!

    Signed with sincerity;

    One of the biggest pains in the ass and the throat any enemy of NAS Whidbey is gonna have.

    1. avatar

      I will post the screenshot tomorrow as well. Today, I have secessionists to stand up to.

      Tomorrow, back to fighting prog agitators. Especially since a liberal congressman is trying to get us more P-8A Poseidons!

    2. avatar

      I regularly comment in many newspapers in the area (except those that use Facebook) and I have never seen such a poor commenting system in use by any of them. I avoid the Whidbey News Times at all costs because of the censorship that goes on, it is sad for any local paper to allow anyone to censor comments unless there is due cause. I read all of Bill’s comments that were saved from yesterday and not one of them was disrespectful, used any language that was inappropriate and he only spoke to the facts and the letter that was published in the Whidbey News Times all this in face of the fact that the other commenters were disrespectful to him. There was no due cause, the bottom line is that the Whidbey News Times either censored Bill or allowed the censorship to go on which is just as bad. They do owe a person who sends a letter to the editor the right to defend himself and his ideas in their public forum because the letter to the editor was published in that forum.

      If the Whidbey News Times and Sound Publishing allows this censorship to go on it is a shameful example of censorship in America and an extremely poor example for a newspaper that states repeatedly that they “encourage a free and open exchange of ideas in a climate of mutual respect”. This example that we have here is not an example of respect. This is out and out censorship. And the Whidbey News Times and Sound Publishing are allowing it to happen.

      I strongly suggest you follow up with Sound Publishing using the information above.

      1. avatar

        I agree totally. That censorship I find absurd.

        Like I said:

        JESSIE, JUST FLIP THE OFF SWITCH ON ALL COMMENTING ON NEWS STORIES PLEASE. NO DISCRIMINATION, I’VE NEVER ADVOCATED FOR THAT.

        THANKS.

    3. avatar

      Some of you may be aware that I created this Facebook page some time ago. One of the reasons was the requirement of the Whidbey News Times that all who wished to post opinions in their paper would use Facebook to do so. I had always used the suedenim Former Paratrooper so I stuck with it. The only thing I changed was my logo. A few weeks ago I was notified by a fellow commenter that I was being blocked by the paper. In other words I could see my posts but no one else could. My opinions were flowing on to my Facebook page as usual and I had received no notification that I was being blocked and therefore had no idea why that had happened. Another fellow poster of conservative opinion Bill Barnett had also been blocked at or about the same time. I decided to communicate directly with the paper, so I called its new editor Megan Hansen to inquire as to the reason I was no longer allowed to voice my opinion in the paper. I was told that I was posting as an anomalous individual and that that was not allowed. I told Megan that I would correct that Immediately. I asked having added my name to the Facebook page would I then be allowed to proceed as I had in the past to post my opinions. She implied that I would and that she had asked the person responsible to take care of it. At the same time I asked about Bill Barnett’s and why he was being blocked? I was told that he abused the use of using links and that he had been warded in the past but continued to do so. I responded that I had never read anything about a prohibition concerning the use of links. Bill wrote that no one had ever spoken to him about any such thing.
      A few days later I called Megan again to complain that I was still being blocked from participating in the paper. She blamed Facebook and explained that it was their fault. I felt that she was either misinformed or being disingenuous. I spoke with her again today after waiting for two days for her to return my call. Which she claimed she had not received. Once again she blamed Facebook. I questioned, how could the posts I have made be blocked by Facebook on the Whidbey News Times but flow through to my now Ed Plitt Paratrooper page. I asked If Facebook was running Sound Publishing? I explained to Megan that I believed in the past that the WNT was left leaning and that now they have proved to me that by their actions they just don’t want a conservative perspective opinion in their paper. I told Megan that after eighteen years they have managed by their actions toward me to lose a customer. I canceled my subscription with the Whidbey News Times today. Additionally I would like to take this opportunity to say good bye to all the good people that I have had the opportunity to communicate with both in the paper and on this Facebook page. The experience has been refreshing. Thank you all.

  2. avatar

    Cliff, thanks for bringing this out front once again. All of my comments were eliminated, apparently I am banned from making ANY remarks online. This is typical for Island County’s Progressive Democratic Socialist leaning newspapers.

    1. avatar

      All of my comments made on the WNT Facebook forum were also 100% eliminated along with all of my comments that were connected to my letter-to-the-editor that Cliff has written about above. It seems, then, that I, too, am also now banned forever and entirely from making any reader-visible comments on the WNT Facebook forum.

      The timing of this ban on my activity at the WNT website obviously transpired in direct response to the comments I was making in response to criticism being levied against this subject letter to the editor.

      The on-line version of this letter did not appear on the WNT web site until some time Monday morning, although it had been in the preceding Saturday’s hard copy newspaper.

      After that letter appeared on line, I had been responding, on and off, for quite some time, in response to remarks being made at the forum regarding that letter. I had been using two different browsers – one logged “IN” to Facebook and one logged “OUT” of Facebook – to monitor that comments were showing up to other readers, as I had previously seen problems like that while using the Facebook plug-in that the WNT now uses.

      For the most part, all comments (mine and everyone else’s) had been showing up on both browsers up until about 8 PM Monday evening. Prior to that 8 PM event, I had noticed that, in a few cases, when I made a response MORE then two text lines in length, the comment did NOT appear. I simply then made a shorter, more concise response, and it appeared. Interestingly, other comment makers (at least, from what I observed) did not at all seem hampered by the “two-line-response” limitation. You can see for yourself that some other folks’ posting are quite lengthy in nature.

      In fact, on a number of previous occasions, other WNT Facebook forum users have also noticed this “two-line” problem and have commented on it, posting, for example a one-liner like “Why are my comments not showing up?”, which, being a “one-liner”, DID show up, while, whatever they HAD been trying to post, was obviously still not visible to any other reader.

      At about 8 PM Monday evening, however, I noticed that all MY comments on the browser logged “OUT” of Facebook had gone “poof!” They were simply…..gone, and they are still gone. All other folks’ comments remained.

      At present, then, based on these events, I must conclude that this is an overt attempt by the Whidbey News Times to censor me completely in their Facebook forum. This does not at all appear to be a technical glitch.

      So far, an inquiry I have made directly to Sound Publishing about this overt censorship has gone unanswered and unexplained. The WNT has not offered any explanation, either, although I am quite sure that by now they have seen this article on Island Politics.

      1. avatar

        Here is the response I received from Sound Publishing when I complained:

        “Cliff-
        The comments have been moderated either by Facebook or by the newsroom. Please review the FAQ document at http://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/commentfaq/, where this is explained more in-depth.
        Your email along with Bill’s has been forwarded to the Publisher for review.
        Thank you”

        So, again the Whidbey News Times dodges the obvious issues they have that is in direct conflict with their repeated statements like ” we encourage a free and open exchange of ideas in a climate of mutual respect”. ha-ha what a laugh!

        It is either the “Newsroom or Facebook” is their answer.

        Either way the public sees it as censorship plain and simple. It is plain to see who allows this to go on and it is the The Whidbey News Times.

  3. avatar

    Time for a BOYCOTT on Sound Publishing! Creating a LOCAL newspaper covering events county wide instead of the four separate newspapers currently controlled by foreigners is long over due.

    1. avatar

      I would be happy with just a forum that offered free expression concerning matters of the city, county state nd country.

  4. avatar

    I have received via email the below:

    Mr. Burnett,
    I understand you’re having issues with our online commenting and are wondering why you were blocked from our site. If you refer to the terms of use for our online commenting policy you will see section one, responsible conduct:

    Without limitation, we reserve the right to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us in our sole discretion and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request.

    The issue that arose from your commenting thread is the repeated references to islandpolitics.org. We see that as you using our website to repeatedly promote another website. Our web administrator cannot be constantly removing links from your posts. We are willing to unblock you from our site as long as you stop continuously promoting another website. If you continue to do so, be guaranteed you will continue to be blocked.

    Megan Hansen
    Editor
    Office: 360-675-6611, Ext 5050
    Internal: 04-5050
    Fax: 360-679-2695 / 888-478-2126
    107 S. Main St., Ste. E101, Coupeville, WA 98239

    Whidbey Island’s Community Newspapers
    Whidbey News-Times • Whidbey Crosswind
    Whidbey Examiner • South Whidbey Record
    Sound Publishing, Inc

    1. avatar

      Maybe if the WNT Facebook forum would allow everyone’s lengthy posts to go unhampered when posting (i.e. NOT limit posts and responses for some people to “two-line” responses) information being provided and asked about from readers making comments could often likely be addressed at the WNT forum itself without having to send folks elsewhere to answer a query made or to clarify a point that had been made in a letter limited to 250 words.

      Heck, even articles written by the WNT often create as many questions as they attempt to answer. Isn’t the point of an-line forum to enable people to share information?

      Obviously, some comments and some questions are simply not viable in one sentence or “two lines”, but if responses are limited to “two lines”, either that perhaps requires another web site to be referenced (where the information is available) OR the “two-line” responses allowed are simply going to be unsatisfactory – to all involved.

      Why, now, do posts more than “two-lines” take, sometimes, HOURS to appear? Obviously, readers cannot actually USE the forum to have a CONVERSATION if they have to WAIT for HOURS for someone to respond to them. (Or, sometimes, lengthy comments / responses simply NEVER show up).

      1. avatar

        I really don’t know what to say Bill. The Whidbey News Times has chosen the worst commenting system ever devised for their newspaper. I really don’t think they have the ability to determine that though. They must be able to tell by their lack of comments to the comments section but apparently that does not bother them. Interesting that their advertising rate card does not show this drop in traffic however…Their comments have dropped dramatically since the switch to Facebook. Part of that is the Facebook technology which is designed around Facebook and the need for information gathering and not the Whidbey News Times or it’s readers needs.

        As you can see the Facebook commenting system has it’s limitations. I suspect the problem you are having with 2 line posts is the javascript rendering in the browser that you are using but that is Facebook not the WNT.

        I do know from managing several large business networks in the area that the WNT is only hurting themselves. While WNT is not blocked at any business that I manage Facebook certainly is so the comments are not available to many people while at work. I use Abine Do Not Track Plus here on my work computers and I have to specifically allow the Whidbey News Times and Facebook to track me to even see the comments when I read the articles which I rarely do.

        The Whidbey News Times again has done this to themselves. As you may remember the whole concept that started Island Politics started after the Whidbey News Times switched to the Facebook commenting system. There is no way I will allow Facebook to track me or use my information and I knew that if I wished to have my opinion known in the local area it would have to be done in another manner than using the Whidbey News Times. They have really excluded themselves from a large part of their base by using Facebook. That and their heavy handed approach has driven many visitors to their site away and will continue to do so until they realize that the world has changed and it is not just about them anymore.

        Island Politics will live on. The Whidbey News Times had a chance to cooperate with local blogs like ours but it is apparent that is never going to happen by their heavy handed approach. Good luck to them, they will need all the luck they can get going into the future. I read quite often about how the Main Stream Media is dying and now I understand just how it happens. Instead of cooperating with their local citizens they have instead chosen the heavy hand of oppression and hiding behind the facade of Facebook as an excuse…like I said, Good luck to the Whidbey News Times, it appears like they will need it because we now know is their way or nothing on their website and I myself choose nothing.

        1. avatar

          Cliff, http://www.islandpolitics.org is more than a venue responding to Sound Publishing’s clumsy handling of the comment section. Islandpolitics.org is a venue created in response to slanted journalism and their investigative capacity of a parrot. Make no mistake; now that the overwhelming biased opinion editorials and letters to the editor during the last election are over, the focus now is to escalate efforts to bash Emerson until the 2016 election cycle. Meanwhile local newspapers will continue their token appearance of being fair and balanced by publishing letters to the editor like Bill Burnett’s. However, Progressive Democratic Socialists will stop at nothing to ensure their progressive movement continues by providing a venue to encourage and promote the like-minded voices to speak and act out while simultaneously and ultimately silencing those who oppose them. Whidbey News Times, et al chose the Facebook platform for a very good reason, and their excuses are just that, excuses which they can hide behind while advancing their REAL agenda.

          1. avatar

            Considering Island Politics with an average of about 30,000 GOOGLE search hits and 10,000 pages VIEWED (?read?) each week I don’t get overly concerned about Sound’s Facebook influencing voters
            The only real communications voice they have is the three Sound publishing rags
            Most of their postings are to just a few lib voices; The few posting on Facebook and those reading their rags are preaching to their quire

        2. avatar

          I can’t imagine any business letting Facebook determine what their patrons express or alloying their business to lose customers because of facebooks actions or lack of timely actions. The Whidbey News times lost me today as a subscriber allegedly according to Megan HANSEN THE EDITOR because of facebook’s failure to act in the interest of the WNT and their subscriber. How stupid.

          1. avatar

            It is not the subscribers they worry about. You are nothing more than a single digit from a circulation statistic to them. It is the advertisers that they are concerned about. That is their bread and butter. If a local advertiser who has a budget with them of say $1000.00 a month calls and complains and a person like yourself calls and complains who do you think they will listen to?

            I don’t think they understand just how unusable the Facebook platform is for their newspaper and their readers. From the way they are handling the comments in their newspaper it is pretty apparent they don’t care either.

    2. avatar

      So then they are telling you that islandpolitics.org is “unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, or indecent”?

      Interesting that people can post links to any other news sites or any other sources no matter how hatefull they are but just not to a local non profit blog. What is the Whidbey News Times trying to hide from the public? Are they that threatened by a local blog that is no competition to them? I can only laugh at them…

      They are trying to control the message plain and simple. They will censor you if you do not follow their rules. They will delete all of your posts if you do not follow the rules. If you happen to mention a local political blog you are not welcome here.

      So much for that “free and open exchange of ideas in a climate of mutual respect”…and they wonder why we at islandpolitics have no respect for them…

      The Whidbey News Times needs to understand that it is themselves that created the need for the Island Politics blog. Their repeatedly clumsy handling of their own comments section necessitated the need for Island Politics and I am sure with their attitude we will see more local blogs cropping up. We will soon see people going elsewhere for their information as the main stream media dies a slow death. They have done it to themselves. They are their own worst problem…

      1. avatar

        In the editor’s emailed response to me, she bolded the words “or otherwise objectionable to us in our sole discretion”.

        I would have bolded those words when reproducing her letter, but I am only (easily) able to do so on threads at which I am the author, where I can use the WSYWIG editor on comments. ;-)

        1. avatar

          And they do certainly have the right to do so. The public also has a right to not participate in their comments section as I do.

          I will never use Facebook, if you have any concept of how they use your information you also would stay as far away from Facebook as you can.

          Like I stated in the earlier comments the Whidbey News Times created Island Politics by their clumsy handling of their comments section, if it were not for that we would not be here commenting we would be commenting in their newspaper…

          1. avatar

            Before the Facebook social plug-in and before Island Politics, I would post pretty much what I do here, now, completely at the Whidbey News Times forums.

            Facebook does not allow people to post attached files (like DISQUS did, for example) to share with other readers, so the only way to do so is to place those items at…wait for it….. another WEB site…..in order to share information via providing a link to that information.

            If you are not a “top commenter” (and I have no idea how one magically gets designated a “top commenter”) you can’t even do that, since links are not “live links” when you post them.

            All in all, as the technology gets BETTER, the Whidbey News-Times forum seems to get technically worse, since they have made choices that either limit the technology, or they themselves simply choose to limit participation, for, as they state, reasons “objectionable to us in our sole discretion”.

    1. avatar

      Joseph,

      We can no longer allow you to post links to your blog here at Island Politics. We are the only blog that matters, our opinions are the only ones that count and we are scared to death that you may somehow get the better of us, we don’t know how you would get the better of us but we are just going to make sure…we want to control the message in our part of the world and exclude anyone else and we can’t do that if you continue to have a different opinion than us and post links to those opinions.

      Just kidding :) I just wanted to use a little humor to show just how ludicrous the Whidbey News Times is…your links are always welcome…

      1. avatar

        Cliff, I agree it’s absurd. Where does one draw the line?

        I want the progressive agitation against NAS Whidbey to go away, does that mean I can’t link to GrowlerNoise.com? Or the WN-T is another biased outlet of “news”?

        I swear we – you, me and Bill are all Breitbarts!

        1. avatar

          Josph,
          One does not draw a line. That is the problem that you are having. Progressive agitators have just as much right to post to a public forum as you do and therein lies the problem.

          I would work towards beating the progressive agitators over the head with logic and facts instead of attempting to silence them. In my experience that always works better and you still hold the high ground by not trying to silence them and their opinions as the Whidbey News Time apparently is doing.

          I don’t know if the Whidbey News Times will stop you from posting links to articles on your website, they certainly have done so with Island Politics. They obviously feel threatened by independant citizen blogs that have opinions different than theirs.
          The Whidbey News Times is not in business to kow-tow to us or anyone else even though we are no threat to them they are here after all to make money. We are not. We just want our opinions known and the Whidbey News Times has shown they cannot be trusted to do so in a fair manner. Somehow they feel a citizen paid for and no profit website with no advertising or plans to ever advertise is somehow a threat to them so I would suspect sooner or later you are also going to fall in the same category as us.

          Heavy handed? Yes it is. But what it is is what it is and it will have zero effect on us at Island Politics even though the Whidbey News Times somehow thinks it will. It just gives them a black eye with their efforts to censor commenters but again…what it is is what it is and the Whidbey News Time will just have to live with it. All of this just makes our resolve and our desire to have our opinions known all that stronger.

          Breitbart does live…there is a little bit of him in all of us…and that is the highest tribute I can give anyone.

          1. avatar

            Don’t worry, I’ll keep fighting. I mainly link to photos so I should be fine, and besides I’ve tipped the Whidbey News-Times a few times already.

            It’s just I want the progressive agitation to stop and as long as the means aren’t fascist or bigoted or the like, I don’t care how.

            Said agitation puts Congressman Rick Larsen (Dem.) in a very precarious position and if this were a private conversation I’d tell you how he handles it when he’s pushed over the edge by the progressive left in Skagit. Let me put it this way: It would be like Congresswoman Homola, only worse.

            Said agitation puts every single job in Island County – private, public and nonprofit sector alike – at risk, not to mention quite a few Skagit County jobs.

            Said agitation puts The Powers That Be in command of NAS Whidbey into uncomfortable conversations of having to defend their existence to the people that should be quite grateful. Perhaps instead people of all political stripes need to have uncomfortable conversations with these trolls instead… I mean after all the Navy is there to protect our freedom and most of these agitators didn’t write NAS Whidbey a thank-you note lately.

  5. avatar

    Here’s a thought, IF the Whidbey Examiner, the ONLY genuinely local newspaper, had conservative leanings do you think they would have sold out to Sound Publishing?

    1. avatar

      Likely not.

      If I win the PowerBall, I think Sound Publishing and I are going to talk with $1,000,000 bills.

  6. avatar

    A couple of interesting comments related to this Sound Politics article appeared in a Whidbey News-Times article today.

    “Oak Harbor kicks off levy campaign”
    http://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/news/180381401.html

    “Tom Trepanier · Top Commenter · Seattle University

    Would love to hear from Bill again on this subject. Do not really understand why he was censored from commenting on news time stories. Wondering what people are afraid of? Seems the “sounds of freedom” are being drowned out by editors/censors of the Whidbey News Times.”

    “Gerry C Yakovleff · Oak Harbor, Washington

    The WNT editors are censoring Mr. Burnett. He is blocked from commenting, even on his own Letters to the Editor! Apparently, Bill’s links to non-WNT articles constitutes a political agenda. I was told at WNT that his comments generated complaints from pro-levy supporters. Interesting.”

  7. avatar

    At my Facebook page today I came across this, posted by “Former Paratrooper”:

    “It has been pointed out to me that the Whidbey News Times is blocking my Comments. I don’t know the reason for this. They have not bothered to make any explanation. When I go on line to their web sight I can see all my recent post as well as past posts, but others cannot. I intend to call tomorrow and ask for an explanation. I would be appreciative If those of you who use this forum to ask the WNT why they are blocking “Former Paratrooper” and Bill Burnett?”

    If you happen to have / use Facebook, his account link is:
    https://www.facebook.com/former.paratrooper

  8. avatar

    After the elections, I terminated my subscriptions to any Sound Publishing products.

    I also choose to boycott advertisers who support these publications, unless it’s an emergency. I prefer to shop at a business that does not support censorship and Goebbelistic journalism tactics.

Comments are now closed.