Courage of Conviction

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Recently, we were stopped at a meeting in Noyac by a community member and engaged in a discussion over whether The Express has fairly covered the concerns of the Noyac community when it comes to the Sag Harbor School District.

For the record, we do feel our paper has covered the school district fairly, accurately and thoroughly. But it was not this aspect of the discussion that sparked the desire to editorialize on this moment, but rather what followed. The same person wondered if we printed all the ‘letters to the editor’ we receive. Knowing very well what she was referring to, we realized the importance of clarifying our letters policy in light of certain submissions in the last six months.

Bottom-line: We print every letter whose author we can confirm as long as it is not libelous or obscene. What we explained to this community member was that recently we have been mailed, or faxed, a number of letters that were either anonymous with no return address, signed by a name not listed in any local phone book with no phone number attached and even some signed but with phone numbers that did not match. One particularly amusing moment occurred when we called to confirm the identity of an author prior to publication and the response was, “Who?”

What is troubling and not unusual is in the midst of controversial stories such as school spending, speculation can lead one to the conjecture a paper may be giving preference to one side or another, whether there is any truth to that perception or not. Certainly, when it comes to providing space on our letters page we welcome discussion, but we urge, and require, people to have the courage of their convictions and sign their name – the true author’s real name.

The public dialogue in our community should be a fair discussion. Members of the school board, the superintendent, teachers and government leaders are willing to put their ideas and opinions out there and have their names attached. We find it discouraging that those who we know want to be a part of the discussion would choose to hide in anonymity, and on our letters page, we won’t allow it.  

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