Editorial for 24 June: On letters – and anonymity

Moving forward, much of the Caymanian
Compass editorial page will be turned over to the people who,
hopefully, will make their voices and opinions heard (forcefully, courageously,
and even stridently) through signed columns and our letters to the editor
forum. The welcome mat is out.

Letters to the editor will no longer be
open to elected politicians. They have numerous channels of communication at
their disposal to get their messages to the people. They make speeches, hold
press conferences, and visit individually and frequently with their
constituents. If an elected member has a legitimate newsworthy communication,
we invite him or her to contact us directly, share it with us, and if, in fact,
the editor believes it is deserving of a news story, we will assign a reporter,
interview the elected member and publish the article in the news pages of the
Compass.

Also, because we believe the editorial page
is among the most valuable “real estate” in the daily Compass, we will
forthwith limit letter writers to appearing on this page to once every 30 days.
We are hoping for more submissions from a much wider group of correspondents,
rather than a forum for a few who regularly use this page as their personal
platform or soapbox. Ideally, letters should be concise and to the point – 200
words or less would be ideal. Of course, we will always scrutinise letters to
guard against libel, slander or defamation.

We will continue to publish only letters
that are signed and verifiable (they’re known as “orthonyms”) – in other words,
no anonymous letters, no pseudonyms, no allonyms, no noms de plume or, heaven
forbid, noms de guerre. This represents no change in policy.

However, beginning next week (some rather extensive
computer work needs to be completed, otherwise we would be starting the
practice today), the Compass website will publish reader
responses to our articles only if the writer is verifiably identified. In other
words, contributors must sign their real names. We are adjusting our website
policy to conform with our long-standing newspaper policy, since we see no
reason for two differing standards between our print and digital editions.

We are well aware of the arguments that
correspondents, if they reveal their true identities, will be victimised for
their views by their employers or others in positions of power. Our own
experience is that those fears are overstated. In fact, David R. Legge, the new
publisher of this newspaper, has been signing his name for more than 20 years
to all opinion pieces he has written and any “blog” he has ever posted.

There has never been any retribution by any
elected member of government, regulatory board, or person in authority.
Ironically, the “abuse,” if you could call it that, almost always has come from
other posters, hiding behind a cloak of anonymity.

Let us be clear: We believe that anonymous
speech is an invitation to irresponsible speech, and that substantial
reputational damage – given the global reach of the Internet – is being done to
the country by anonymous correspondents whose messages would be much more
appropriately shouted at protest rallies than promulgated by local media
outlets.

We are not naïve. We know that many, if not
most, media houses in the United States and beyond are publishing anonymous
commentaries. We also know that all of the ching chings can be flying in the
wrong direction. Going forward, don’t expect the Compass – or its website – to
be one of the flock.

(Editorials, such as this, are the “voice
of the newspaper,” not of a single individual and, therefore, never bear a
byline.)

 

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11 COMMENTS

  1. I’m sorry to hear about your change in policy regarding anonymity.
    It was a pleasure commenting on this site.
    The interaction that went on between posters was most enjoyable…for the greater part.
    Your paper, for what’s it’s worth in my opinion, attracted a higher calibre of respondents.
    I’ll truly miss putting in ‘my 2 cents of wisdom (?)’…and miss reading the opinions of my fellow posters.

    Yours truly.

    Banana Republic

    Final Post!

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  2. Well, Mr. Legge is able to be open and forthright since he has the means to be that way. Many times civil servants would like to comment o their employers but will most certainly receive some sort of retribution from their bosses. Additionally, members of the public who openly criticize the management of Public companies and even private companies do suffer consequences since they frequently have to deal with these companies and their small minded managers who then ensure that they are treated prejudicially. While I used to be a fairly frequent letter writer, I have always signed my true name and I have been victimised many times for it. I also have voiced my opinion on the radio and have had to suffer the bias from the hosts and the wrath of the people who are involved in my discussion. This is a small country with people who find it difficult to divorce the issues from the commentator. It is reflected in the debates in Government, in the laws that are passed and reflected in the way the general public with a few exceptions avoid public comment. The previous Compass editorial staff were very selective in whom and what they published causing many people myself included to cease and desist from even attempting to have anything published. I look forward anxiously to see how your new policy will work out.

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  3. How much longer can the citizens of British territories endure the control of British colonialists? It’s time to take out the history books and remind ourselves of the sufferings of other citizens in other British colonies and examine how well taken were these acts of bullying on their society. Have you considered the real reason why we have no right to bear arms to protect ourselves against armed criminals?

    check this out:-
    http://www.davekopel.org/2A/LawRev/american-revolution-against-british-gun-control.html

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  4. The article that says divers say Cayman is top spot. Steve of Ocean Frontier said that Cayman is up there with the world best. The National Conservation Law and moves to expand marine parks would help the Island remain a favorite destination. Our reefs can compete on the highest levels but if not managed properly our blue skies and sunshine are a rare commodity in the Caribbean. We have to remember that the divers/tourist that come to Cayman Islands do not spend all their time under water. So with all this said, we the people and the government need to work together to keep them happy above the water too. Remember if a tourist cannot go on a dive and come back to their room/condo without been robbed, or some other bad experience happening, that’s a bad vacation. Then we would end up like every other tourist destination that this happens in, let us be one of a kind/the best.

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