I’ve often been asked why The Valley Echo doesn’t provide a public forum for people to deliver positive vs. negative opinions and comments. There are a number of reasons and I’ll try to outline them here the best I can.
I would love to have a place where people can say thanks for the lift, thanks for the wonderful work you do, etc. Call them roses/stars/bouquets, whatever you like. That is not the place for thank you ads however, and it becomes a bit of a nightmare to determine what goes where at what price. Because — as I think everybody is aware — the newspaper business is not non-profit. It is a business just like all the other ones in the community, operating with paid employees and owners who like to see the black numbers on their bottom line.
The other side of the coin are the thorns/stingers/beefs. Where is the line in the sand that says we will publish this but we won’t publish that? Do we accept self-criticism or only that that applies to others? Who is available to screen all the wording so the subject is not identifiable? Or then again, why bother if readers are unable to discern the subject? Do people really feel better because they can be responsible for something in print that says, “There is somebody out there that treated me badly”?
Black Press papers have done these sections in the past. As a matter of fact, one good example of what I’m saying occurred when I worked for The Golden Star in Golden. Of course, they offered Stars and Stingers. A stinger came in, referring to an auto dealer who had let a vehicle out of the shop with something wrong with it — I don’t remember the details exactly; the brakes were almost gone or something. It was not a good situation. Well, at the time, there was only one auto “dealer” in town and it turns out the dealer wasn’t the repair shop in the stinger that had failed to provide adequate service. You can imagine the uproar from a business that prided itself on excellent service being referred to in such a manner.
I hope this provides a better understanding of why this type of forum doesn’t run in our paper, but letters to the editor are always welcome, as are submitted articles and comments on our website and Facebook page.
Marilyn Berry is the publisher of The Valley Echo.