Today’s Editorial January 16: Be open with press

Sometimes in the daily grind of newspaper reporting we hit brick walls.

Those walls come in the form of people not responding to requests for information.

Oftentimes we go ahead with the story – reporting only one side – because we believe it is in the public’s best interest to know what is going on with a particular issue.

In those instances we offer a second article to give the other side of the story if the source we tried to glean information from initially comes forward.

We would prefer, however, to give our readers and the public both sides of the story in every instance.

These brick walls come from Government, civil servants and the private sector.

In a more recent instance we gave Government more than ample time and made several requests for information about smoking ban legislation. When that information wasn’t forthcoming we put the story out there and our requests were finally answered both in a Cabinet briefing and in a letter from the Health Services Administration.

In another instance we wrote about the rollover policy and its influence on the finance industry. A local firm was given ample opportunity to respond to the story, refused to talk to us and then complained loudly when the article appeared and it wasn’t represented.

In another instance a member of a government agency was quite vocal in his belief that we had no right to run a story about unsafe elevators without that agency’s response. Again, we made several attempts and even sat on the story for several days giving them a chance to respond.

And yet another involved an institution of higher learning that refused to comment on student attacks, but decided to pen a Letter to the Editor in response to the story after it had run.

While we welcome responses to stories and articles after they have run, we believe it is our duty to the public to give them information that is complete, not one-sided.

It is possible for a person to read a story about an issue and not pick up the following story that gives the other side’s voice.

That means the reader isn’t fully informed.

Government, its agencies, civil servants and the private sector should be forthcoming with information when our journalists request it.

The Caymanian Compass has a reputation for fairness and honesty. When we seek input for our stories, we are doing so to ensure members of the public get balanced and complete information to form their own opinions about issues.

It is not our job to tell readers what to think. It is our job to disseminate information that is accurate and complete.

We hope that in this new year everyone we approach for information will heed our call and help us keep the public up to speed on the issues that face us all.