Dealing with the lack of civil discourse
I was at a grocery store in town Sunday morning when a guy came up to me and asked if I was Greg Peck from the Gazette. I politely replied that I was.
Without sharing his name, he proceeded to explain to me in no uncertain terms that he thought it was “totally inappropriate” to put an editor’s note on a letter from a reader last week. The note clarified part of Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan for Social Security.
I asked this fellow to let me explain why we included it.
“No,” he replied matter-of-factly. “Totally inappropriate.”
He turned away, and I told him if he has any gripes in the future, call me at the office.
I didn’t know the man. He likely recognized me from my picture in this blog, so he’s probably reading this. Great.
I don’t have a problem with the fact he disagreed with our decision. After all, sharing and publishing differences of opinion is in large part my role here.
What does get my goat, however, is the guy interrupted my day when I obviously wasn't at work and didn’t extend me the courtesy or respect to explain our side of why we added the editor’s note.
Simply, I thought the letter, suggesting that Ryan “wants to take your Social Security checks and ‘invest’ them with some of his banker friends on Wall Street,” unfairly and even inaccurately reflected Ryan’s proposal.
I didn’t call Ryan’s office to see what the congressman thought. Instead, I simply went online, found Ryan’s “Roadmap” proposal and, without adding any comment, copied a couple of sentences that more accurately reflect Ryan’s plan.
You can still agree with the letter writer's point if you want; that’s fine. But I thought the editor’s note was only appropriate to better explain Ryan’s idea.
We balance lots of things, and this was simply a decision of trying to balance the letter writer's right to express himself with our desire to provide accurate information and perspective.
Should I have bounced the editor’s note off the writer before including it when printing the letter? Perhaps. Did I have to? No. I could have just rejected the letter or deleted that part of the letter. After all, our policy, printed daily, says we reserve the write to edit letters.
So you don’t like it? Fine. Call me at the office. You can even remain anonymous. Many callers do anyway.
Dealing with criticism is part of the job. Dealing with rude people at the grocery store on a Sunday morning, however, I can do without.
Last updated: 10:12 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013