Freedom of speech for everyone

Dear Editor,

In the Sept. 8, 2016 issue of the Rocky Mountain Goat, reference was made to The Valley Sentinel, subliminally mentioned as the “other local publication” (there is no other local publication, so it has to be TVS), in relation to a Letter to the Editor that was published. The comment was that The Valley Sentinel should not be printing some of these letters.

Letters to the Editor are not journalistic reporting, but opinion. Whereas reporting of stories and events should be written in as objective and accurate a manner as possible, the Letter to the Editor format was created to provide an opportunity for public expression on any number of issues. As such, sometimes very different opinions on a single subject are expressed.

On practically any subject there is a wide range of statistics/facts an individual can use to support their position. It is not for a newspaper to judge which of these a writer chooses; that would make the paper bias. That is the right and responsibility of the writer. The newspaper’s responsibility is to keep out anything that may be legally libelous.

If there is strong disagreement on a submitted topic, individuals have the freedom to submit a response they believe supports an opposite position.

Newspapers allow the submission of Letters to the Editor with the disclaimer that these do not necessarily represent the editorial stance of the newspaper. In fact, accepting submissions that only agree with one side or another takes away a fundamental human right – freedom of expression without reprisal. Undoubtedly, most, if not all, editors at some time or another have put in submissions they have personally disagreed with.

Individuals have the right to submit their opinions to whichever newspaper they choose and therefore it should not be assumed by the public that a newspaper only supports one side of an issue if that is all they are receiving.

In my editorials I often talk about how as individuals we should be careful not to label and judge presumptively. I am confident in the standard The Valley Sentinel adheres to.

Submitted sincerely,

Dianne St. Jean
The Valley Sentinel
Valemount, B.C.

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