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
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
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