Opinion page is for all opinions | Editorial

One of the biggest reasons I enjoy being the editor of the Kirkland Reporter is our active opinion page. Kirkland residents care about their community, have strong beliefs and are not afraid to express them. I believe in freedom of speech above all else and there are very few forums like a newspaper’s opinion page.

It is not like Facebook where all you read are your friends’ opinions and beliefs. After all, most surround themselves with people who have relatively the same views. Most people won’t discuss hot-button issues or political beliefs in a public forum like Facebook for fear of alienating their friends or family.

Twitter is a little more broad. You can communicate with more people and have your post re-tweeted to a wider swath of the public sphere. But Twitter is confining in its 140-character limit and, again, most of the time you are reading the views of people you follow. Most people do not seek out their political opposite.

In this day-and-age of free and abundant media, the echo chamber of cable news, blogs and talk radio blur the lines between opinion and unbiased journalism. It sensationalizes the news to make it entertaining, gain the largest following and make the most money. Attempting to report in an unbiased manner is not as lucrative. Most newspapers, the Kirkland Reporter included, attempt to keep opinions separate from news coverage. The opinion page in the Reporter is clearly marked and so are columns. Both are the opinion of the writer and the writer alone.

Open and honest exchanges of ideas is what democracy is all about. The media echo chamber is detrimental to the system. I strive to make sure the Reporter is not a part of that echo chamber. The opinion page is for opinions and the rest of the paper, with the exception of clearly marked columns, is for our attempt at unbiased news coverage.

During the past month some readers have criticized the Reporter for printing certain letters or guest editorials. They have even threatened the paper for some of the letters printed. They have accused the paper, and some have pointed the finger directly at me, of printing some letters and opinions and not others. This is simply not the case. Since I have been editor we have published every letter received and have been as open as possible to printing guest editorials from the community. We print every letter, column and editorial on our website. We also make every attempt to publish all letters in the print edition. Obviously, we have limited space in print. I have even taken the extra step to not print my editorial in favor of getting every possible letter into the print edition. I believe you would prefer to hear what your neighbors have to say. It also allows for a more diverse number of voices in our paper and includes more of the community in our discussions.

We print all opinions, ones we agree with and ones we do not. I find it laughable that some have accused me of taking a side I patently disagree with. It also tells me that I am doing something right. If I have a strong opinion on a topic I will let you know in an editorial, such as this one. The views expressed on the opinion page are those of the writer only. The editorial page is for you to express whatever you want (within 350 words in print), as long as it is not libelous and you sign your first and last name. If you don’t agree with a letter, write a rebuttal. All content has to have something to do with Kirkland or be written by a Kirkland resident.

We want all viewpoints expressed in our paper, not just the popular ones or from one side or the other. We believe in free speech above all else.

Matt Phelps is the editor of the Kirkland Reporter.

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