Published on June 29th, 2011 | by JLedger0
Publishing other opinions
Every serious publication establishes a set of principles, in concert with the norms of the community it serves, to determine what news and views it deems “fit to print.” We applied the Ledger’s principles recently in the debate over the Hartford Jewish Community relations Council’s (JCRC) decision to co-sponsor a presentation in our community by the group called, “J Street.”
Of the close to 40 letters and emails received in response to our two editorials about J Street, most agreed with our point of view. Three letters and two emails did not. We published two of the three negative letters on the Internet. They were both respectful and addressed issues pertinent to those we raised in the editorial. Not so the third letter, whose authors have now stridently accused us of censorship and of having violated their right to free speech. In so doing, they ignore the fact that the Ledger has both the right and obligation to not publish something that does not meet our standards.
The letter in question slurred third parties who were not even involved in the local conversation. In response to our objection, one of the letter writers retorted, “That’s the way these things are done.” That may be true in some places, but not in the Ledger.
As usual, we made our points in both editorials respectfully. We published a full 400+-word column from the chair of the Hartford JCRC and its executive director (Letters, June 14). And, as already noted, we posted on-line two letters that disagreed with our point of view. There is no censorship here, just an effort to apply our standards as consistently as we can. Even if we had not had difficulty over the years with one of the authors, who uses four letter words in his “blog” to describe our publication and has called for Jewish communal leaders to “ostracize and repudiate” the paper, we would have made the same decision.
The Ledger, must make choices like this one all the time about what we do and don’t publish. Indeed, with the advent of the Internet, the volume of comments has increased dramatically and we can’t verify, edit and publish all of them. Thus, time and space constraints are forcing us to make these choices more and more often.
We have continued the Zionist traditions established by the Ledger’s founders more than 80 years ago, as well as the traditions of encouraging thoughtful, healthy and respectful debate on issues that are important to our community. We have and will continue to make every effort to allow and encourage a diversity of opinions on the issues. However, we will not lower our standards and thus we will not indiscriminately publish everything that is submitted to us. Uncivil and disrespectful submissions don’t make the cut. If you disagree, please tell us about it.