Danville Express

Perspective - November 23, 2007

From the publisher: There are (at least) two sides to every story

The purpose of Town Square, our online readers forum at www.DanvilleWeekly.com, is to allow community members an opportunity to talk with each other and with us. This is an arena where visitors have the freedom to voice their opinions and ask tough questions, safe from abuse, degradation and the perpetuation of rumors.

To this end, the Danville Weekly will remove known errors of fact. Unsubstantiated claims that are potentially harmful or destructive from an ethical standpoint, such as accusations of alcoholism, drug abuse and the like, will also be removed.

However, we extend contributors a lot of latitude to state their opinions. The basis for any opinion or argument is the source of the information from which the statement is formed. It is up to the reader to assess whether or not the opinion is valid, based on the original source and their own research. We encourage people on both sides of an issue to present their case and let visitors decide on the merits of the presentation. Unless the discussion turns destructive, we will allow such an open line of communication.

Take for example, a recent forum in which a writer accused a county supervisor of saying he and another resident had endorsed her when they did not. The supervisor responded that she has their written and signed endorsements.

In the Town Square forum for our newspaper in Pleasanton, writers were questioning police procedure and some posts were sarcastic and condescending; we allowed them because the opinions expressed and the questions asked were legitimate. An official from the police department eventually responded and provided information which eliminated the need for speculation on the part of posters.

While it can be assumed the department was not overly happy that law enforcement practices and procedures were being questioned in an open forum, representatives took advantage of the situation to educate the public and clear up any misconceptions. The visitors were very appreciative of the time this police officer took to address their questions.

Let's face it, we all know this type of conversation and these types of questions are asked everyday, be it on the sidelines at the kids' soccer games or over a cup of coffee at Yellow Wood or Peet's. At least with forums such as Town Square, both sides get an opportunity to present their case.

--Gina Channell-Allen, a 20-year journalism veteran, is publisher of the Danville Weekly. Send questions to gallen@DanvilleWeekly.com

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