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Monday, September 21, 2009

Editor Warns Readers: Political Web Sites Risky Business

This past Wednesday, one of the Janesville Gazette editors wrote the following in his blog posting titled, "Your comment at a political Web site could wind up in a newspaper."
JG Blog Excerpt:
So that's a fair warning to you. You might want to avoid responding to such political Web sites to avoid any risk of winding up with opinions printed in your local newspaper when you didn't want them published.
At first the editor's comments seemed to focus on readers who send in “canned” letters to publishers. However, his advice quickly mutated into a fear-based warning suggesting the risks are too great to interact with political Web sites.

Granted, political Web pages often contain very heated spur-of-the-moment and sometimes regrettable statements made by the participants. That is the nature of the beast. But it's all subject to interpretation. As Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Gableman recently pointed out in defense of campaign ads he ran against Justice Louis Butler, he (the people) can't be held responsible under the First Amendment for how statements are interpreted. Of course he was referencing his own political issue ads. Still, issue ads don't carry any different interpretable weight or qualifiers than letters to newspapers or comments posted on Blogs.

Under the First Amendment it can be assumed ALL Web sites and blogs open to the public (and newspapers) including comments voiced out in the public arena on any theme or topic (not only political) are subject to analysis, discussion, report and scrutiny by another party. Newspaper columnists, editors and reporters do it all the time, and the last I heard - they don't have the First Amendment cornered to themselves.

It is beginning to appear that the newspaper is now pushing their socio-political agenda through their blogs. Their so-called and self-acclaimed eclectic "we the people" political blogger in particular seems to have taken up where the Gazette left off regarding many of the newspaper's political positions including those on organized labor and salary negotiations for the district’s school teachers.

The Gazette's blogs are in full swing now. From my last count, the newspaper has at least a dozen blogs writing about everyone and anything, that's cool – but there’s only one blog about them.

You never know when "your comment in a newspaper could wind up on a political Web site"

Best reason yet why the QEO was unnecessary and finally scrapped.
"Also the comment made that teachers have been "frozen for the past 15 years at 3.8% because of the QEO" is NOT TRUE. Most settlements have been above 3.8% and some of them substantially so. The QEO has NEVER been implemented here in Janesville." – Janesville School Board Member

“If you see any hint of bias in the media, please drop us a line.” -- Fox News punch line.

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