Whidbey News-Times removes on-line editorial “Carrying guns: You can, but it doesn’t mean you should” from 09 Feb on-line edition

UPDATED (see below) Was a series of on-line readers’ comments on the morning of Saturday, 09 Feb, simply “too much” for the Whidbey News-Times (WNT)? The newspapers’ on-line editorial chastised citizens about exercising their 2nd Amendment Rights at this past Tuesday’s Oak Harbor, WA City Council meeting. The WNT posted the editorial Saturday morning, and it was attracting a series of readers’ comments that were not favorable towards the WNT’s stated views. Around noon, the newspaper “pulled” the editorial from the on-line edition. The newspaper’s original link to that editorial is now met only with a page which reads “Page Not Found”.

Did the WNT decide to “pull” it’s editorial permanently from being on-line? Or, are they simply temporarily avoiding the growing number of on-line comments which had been criticizing the newspaper’s stated position? A readable copy of the WNT editorial appears below the “Read the rest of this entry »” link. The subject editorial was apparently printed in the locally distributed hard-copy edition, as evidenced by the Whidbey News-Times, February 09, 2013 (“Green Edition”)  on page 6). 


Ken Bullseye Jenzen Lvmc has publicly challenged the Whidbey News-Times’ actions in having taken down this editorial, asking their new executive editor and publisher, Keven R. Graves, in comments posted to a Publisher’s Column titled “Ethics matter in community papers”, to put this WNT editorial BACK on line at the newspaper’s website. So far, Mr. Graves has indicated that “Jessie archived the editorial without checking with the editor”.

Mr. Graves also stated that their editor “went looking for it and ran into some problems” but he did not explain anything about those problems and he also he also blamed the WNT’s own newspaper-publishing technology for not having put the editorial back on line, claiming that “…not everything is a simple push of the button here.” 

My initial take: Mr. Graves is likely not going to simply put that editorial back on line as he seems to want us to believe is the case. If he really he wanted to do so in a timely manner, he, or someone on his staff, simply could have had the editorial re-typed, thus re-creating Jessie Stensland’s editorial “from scratch” in almost no time at all.

Mr. Graves has been “on-the-job” for more than a couple of weeks now. Did he really think that he could publish such an editorial about journalistic ethics and NOT be asked about Jessie Stensland’s hatchet job on the 2nd Amendment? Of course, not.  The reality is: a reposting of that editorial could have been done TODAY, or AT ANY TIME IN THE LAST THREE WEEKS IF the new PUBLISHER HAD WANTED THAT TO HAPPEN.

From reading between the lines, it presently appears that queries to the WNT editor on this editorial in the past couple of weeks have been going into a “black hole” over at the WNT, the editor has been making excuses, and the new publisher is now circling the wagons to protect his staff.

On this very same day, it took only about two hours for the WNT first to CREATE, PUBLISH and then, later, UPDATE an article about a lady who drove her car through the front of a local store, where no injuries were sustained. I suppose anyone who had been planning to get a late-lunch pizza at Little Caesar’s should be gastronomically thankful to the WNT for both their sleuthing and on-line publishing technical abilities before they headed out to lunch today.


The Whidbey News-Times Editorial as it appears in their Saturday, 09 Feb edition:








































Some online readers’ remarks were very critical of the above editorial in the WNT’s Facebook comments section. One person from Kent, WA even alluded to how Sound Publishing had apparently gotten rid of some “too-liberal” editorial staff down that way, because it was costing them revenue $$, and he suggested that Sound Publishing should look into doing the same thing in Oak Harbor. Here’s an example of one reader’s comments that was made in response to editorial before the WNT took it down:































Here’s another on-line reader comment about that editorial:




  1. In the article on this topic which Jessie Stensland ALSO wrote she made several statements such as:

    “The members of the Oak Harbor City Council were outnumbered and surrounded by men with guns, but they managed to diffuse the situation with parliamentary procedures.”

    “The armed members of the audience ultimately won the day”

    “The night wasn’t without confrontation or hyperbole.”

    Now, I am not sure what “situation” was diffused or what “confrontation” she was referring to, and why she points out that it was “armed members of the audience”, and she obviously overlooked the fact that many citizens were there unarmed and were supporters of the 2nd Amendment and supported bringing our laws into line with our state laws. I guess the unarmed citizens didn’t count in Jessie Stensland’s mind, especially seeing how she ignored them in the article and only focused on the few armed citizens.

    Now, however, it has all become very clear why the article was worded in such a way as to be sensational and “pro” gun control. From her latest article, which is actually penned as an editorial, it is clear that this reporter has an anti-firearm bias. She writes:

    “carrying guns in such circumstances is poor form”

    “Guns at council meetings stifle participation.”

    “But it’s just rude, as well as being completely counterproductive to any point the speaker is trying to make”.

    Jessie has obviously overlooked a few facts in both her biased article and her biased editorial, because of her bias. She considers carrying guns to city council meetings “poor form” and that it “stifles participation” and is “counter productive to any point the speaker is trying to make”.

    Obviously, the majority of people at the meeting did not have the same facts as Jessie. While Jessie considers it “poor form”, people with CPL licenses have been carrying to city council meetings before she was born. I don’t know how she can say it “stifles participation” because, if I am not mistaken, this was one of the largest city council meetings in the history of Oak Harbor, and, as far being counterproductive? Well, the ordinances were immediately corrected under an emergency motion so what was so counterproductive about that? The only reason Jessie Stensland made the above comments is because of her bias – and not the facts.

    Not only is Jessie Stensland a reporter at the Whidbey News Times, but she is also an editorialist. I know that other newspapers have strict rules against their reporters editorializing:

    Q: Do Reporters Ever Write Editorials For The Sentinel?

    A: Absolutely not. The Sentinel has a policy of strictly separating its news staff from those who write opinion on the editorial page and opposite the editorial page. A reporter’s job is to cover all sides of a news story, gathering information from sources with varying opinions on an issue. Our aim is to be accurate and fair in reporting any story.


    If there is any wonder why the Whidbey News-Times’ articles always appear slanted to favor one group or another, you have to look no further that their policies. When you see reporters editorializing about stories they have written, especially when those stories themselves already appear to be biased, it is clear this is policy at the Whidbey News-Times.

    I don’t know how Jessie can be an editorialist while also being a reporter. She seems to blur the difference between the two in her reporting. I checked with the Society of Professional Journalists (http://www.spj.org), and this is what they have to say in the code of ethics:

    Act Independently

    Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know.

    Journalists should:
    – Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
    — Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
    — Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
    — Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
    — Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
    — Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
    — Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.

    Source: http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

    1. Cliff, have you noticed that ever since the tragic Newtown school shooting that the liberal news media is suddenly fixated on EVERY gun related incident and plastered it all over the national news?

      WNT is a liberal fish wrapper dedicated to spreading the the gospel of Progressive Democratic Socialism. Jessie Stensland’s anti-gun viewpoint extends well beyond a simple gun ban in parks and government buildings. She states that guns are not “socially” acceptable, and what is considered “socially” acceptable, or not, outweighs the United States Constitution.

      Therefore, a BOYCOTT of all newspapers owned by Sound Publishing would be “socially” acceptable to Jessie Stensland.

      1. Whidbey News Times, Whidbey Examiner, and South Whidbey Record are newspapers owned by Sound Publishing which is headquartered in Canada therefore, it does not qualify as a local newspaper.

        Whidbey MarketPlace and News is the ONLY locally owned newspaper in Island County therefore, they are the ONLY newpaper that gets my support.

          1. Duh Joe! News Flash! Sound Publishing is a subsidiary of Black Press Ltd. of Victoria, B.C., Canada. Founded in 1975, Black Press now publishes more than 170 newspapers and other publications in British Columbia, Alberta and Washington state, as well as the Honolulu (Hawaii) Star-Advertiser, and Akron (Ohio) Beacon-Journal daily newspapers. It is administered and majority owned by David Holmes Black of Victoria, B.C.


        1. How many newspapers does Sound Publishing now own in the Puget Sound area? This is a foreign owned corporation, which recently announced the purchase of another paper in Everett. What ever happened to the laws concerning anti competitive practices. My opinion of sound Publishing is that they in conjunction with facebook have conspired to stifle public opinion by censoring public comment. Additionally Sound Publishing is establishing a monopoly in the region.

      1. The only way to boycott these newpapers effectively is to hit them in the pocketbook. Boycott the businesses that advertise in them and make sure you tell them (advertisers) why you are boycotting them.

  2. Here is my rebuttal to the editorial that was in the paper this morning.

    This entire guns / parks issues was a NON ISSUE to start with.

    It’s been legal to carry firearms in the city parks since 1994 when the state preemption law went into effect.

    If you or the paper you represent had any clue on how to actually do investigative journalism you would have found that in 1965 the city passed a code that made it illegal to carry a firearm into city parks.

    6.14.070 Firearms and fireworks.
    It is unlawful to shoot, fire or explode any firearm, fireworks, firecrackers, torpedo or explosive of any kind or to carry any firearm or to shoot or fire any air gun, bows and arrows, B.B. gun or use any slingshot in any park without the written permission of the council. (Ord. 214 § 8, 1965).

    If you had investigated further you would have found that when the city changed its charter in 1974 it adopted a rule that kept all previous code and laws in place and in effect that were in effect prior to the city changing its charter.

    1.16.040 Existing city laws and regulations.
    All ordinances, resolutions and orders adopted under the third class city classification,

    *where not in conflict with state law,*

    shall continue in force until repealed or amended by the city council under the newly adopted optional municipal code classification of Noncharter Code City under the mayor council form of government. (Ord. 364 § 4, 1974).

    In 1994 the state adopted a preemption law concerning firearms.
    One of the reasons why this preemption law was placed into effect was to ensure that all cities and counties in Washington State were on the same page concerning firearms.

    Imagine what a simple drive down I-5 might be like if each city and county adopted their own codes on firearms. You might be a felon in King county, but in Snohomish county it’s perfectly legal.

    RCW 9.41.290
    State preemption.
    The state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation within the boundaries of the state, including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components. Cities, towns, and counties or other municipalities may enact only those laws and ordinances relating to firearms that are specifically authorized by state law, as in RCW 9.41.300, and are consistent with this chapter. Such local ordinances shall have the same penalty as provided for by state law. Local laws and ordinances that are inconsistent with, more restrictive than, or exceed the requirements of state law shall not be enacted and are preempted and repealed, regardless of the nature of the code, charter, or home rule status of such city, town, county, or municipality.
    Effective date — 1994

    Why do I bring this up?

    It’s been perfectly legal to carry a firearm in the city parks since 1994.

    Has there been an issue with firearms in city parks?

    I’ll bet that the nice people at the Oak Harbor police department could look up how many people have been arrested, charged and convicted for carrying a firearm in Oak Harbor city parks since 1994.

    My best guess is that I won’t need to use more than 5 fingers to count them up.

    Is there an ongoing issue in the city parks concerning firearms that you and your paper have not been reporting?

    Had the city council done the job that it was hired to do (look out for the best interests of people and city of Oak Harbor) they would put aside personal agendas and done what was in the best interests of the city.

    Here is how I would have liked to have seen the timeline unfold):

    SAF contacts the city of Oak Harbor about the wording in the city code concerning firearms and the city parks.

    The city vets the SAF’s issue through the city attorney.

    The city attorney finds and presents the facts to the city council, that as written the city code concerning firearms and the city parks is in violation with the states preemption law and that since the code that’s in conflict with the preemption law has been nullified by the city charter code there are two courses of action the city council can take.

    1. To inform the SAF that the city code concerning firearms in city parks is nullified by the city charter change adoption of the Oak Harbor city codes and by the states preemption law.

    2. To inform the SAF that the city is going to change the code concerning firearms in city parks to bring it in line with the states preemption law.

    No need for grandstanding or attention whoring by any members of the city council, just a small city code change to ensure that the city is following the laws, much like the city council expects the citizens of Oak Harbor to follow the law.

    This would have never gained the attention of national Youtube video media or the attention of the main stream media had the city council followed the law.

    I have to wonder if you and everyone else who is still whining about this non-issue has any common sense about them.

    Before this was an issue people were concealed carrying firearms in the city parks and city hall with no issues.

    You would never know who was carrying because CONCEALED MEANS CONCEALED.

    You would never know if that person who was carrying the firearm was legal to carry a firearm or not.

    If our elected state level officials change the states preemption law to include allowing cities to pass laws banning the carry of firearms at city hall and parks does this mean there will be an end to it?

    How are you going to know who’s following the law and who’s not.

    City hall would be easy, place a metal detector at the entrance of city hall and have an armed police officer frisk everyone going into city hall.

    Regarding the parks, there’s no way to make a single point entrance / exit for all city parks, let alone have a metal detector and an armed police officer scan each and everyone who goes into the park.

    Do you suggest random searches? Perhaps the police will ask people in the parks to hand over their identification card and then detain them while the perform a body cavity search looking for firearms.

    I seriously doubt that is going to happen.

    As as side note, why do you feel the need to go to the tired anti-gunner brady bunch description of firearms in your letter?

    With the exception of a very small minority, Washington state residents cannot own “assault rifles” in Washington State.

    I seriously doubt that someone is going to take a firearm that’s worth a minimum of $16,000 dollars and bring it into the city park “just because”.

    At the last city council meeting there was ONE rifle carried into city hall, and it was FAR from being an “assault rifle”.

    Have a ham sammich on me.

  3. Many have expressed concern that now folks will be walking around City Beach with “assault rifles.” However, in State v. Spencer, an appellate court ruled against such activity, saying it violated RCW 9.41.270(1) regarding exhibition of a firearm in a manner “that manifests an intent to intimidate another or that warrants alarm for the safety of other persons.”

    This particular case involved a man walking his dog in a residential area while carrying “a semi-automatic military rifle with ammunition clip attached.”

    So we all win, in that concealed-carry folks can continue to carry in parks without alarm to anyone; and other park users don’t have to worry about anyone walking their dog with an “assault rifle.”

  4. Thanks for publicizing this further Bill.

    This editorial was a horribly one sided attack from the hypothetical “bully pulpit”. We all learned when we were younger that journalism, and more specifically journalists, were the guardians of truth and exposed wrongs to light. Unfortunately journalism and journalists are not what they used to be.

    When someone who should exhibit no bias whatsoever attacks a fundamental write given under the constitution, through the use of another right granted in that same document, we should all cast a skeptical eye on that person.

    I could never imagine the Whidbey News Times to publish an editorial critical of its own First Amendment rights. That is a right they agree with, exercise freely, and gives them a paycheck.

  5. Guns….Guns….Guns…people need to do something productive with the spare time they have rewriting issue after issue…..Concealed means not seen and I believe a gun, rifle that is open to public eyes, is not concealed.

    1. “Concealed means not seen”.

      Quite correct.

      “a gun, rifle that is open to public eyes, is not concealed.”

      This is true.

    2. concerned If you dont know, washington is an open carry state that means it is legal to carry a rifle or a handgun “open to the public eyes”

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