A Note from the Publisher Concerning Freedom of Expression

letter to editor policy text

We have been contacted about a letter to the editor that was published in a recent edition of the newspaper. Those contacting us disagreed with the letter. We always welcome all points of view, whether we agree with them or not. We recognize that others will often not agree with any expressed opinion. The founders of our country felt that freedom of expression was so important they created “The Fourth Estate.” They even wrote specific laws into the constitution and the Bill of Rights regarding such freedom and calling for freedom of the press so all viewpoints could be expressed.

This is even more important today. It is very evident especially with the conflict in Ukraine and the events in Russia during the regime of Vladimir Putin. In a foreign language news program this week, we heard that over recent years, 39 journalists have been assassinated in connection with doing their duty and reporting what they believe to be fair, accurate, and honest news. In some instances, families of the journalists were killed as well. Things changed in the old Soviet Union under Gorbachev and even more so under Boris Yeltsin. Now, Mr. Putin wants to bring back the days before them when Stalin, Khrushchev, and Lenin ran the country. During those days dissidents were killed on a wholesale basis.

Today’s America is not the one I was brought up in, and I sincerely hope it will never model itself after Russia. I have heard what I consider to be unbiased news from journalists in other countries and in other languages. Italian, British and German media has numerous reporters scattered throughout Ukraine reporting on site. I have seen terrible videos being shown in Europe similar to those being broadcast stateside daily.

I agree that many American news sources lean far too much to the left and others lean far too much to the right – I wish it was the way it was back when I first entered journalism back in 1970. Then only a small percentage of the media “tilted” the news one way or the other with their opinions.

At that time, there was such a thing as the fairness doctrine. This required media to offer similar space to opposing viewpoints. Which is precisely what we have offered with those who complained about the letter to the editor in question.

Thankfully, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and other forefathers were proactive in protecting freedom of speech. Even though they all had bitter disagreements with each other over many things, they recognized the need to protect freedom of expression and enthusiastically did so.

Regardless of who wins any national election in America, more than forty percent of the electorate will disagree with the majority who voted for the winner. The ebb and flow of politics is such that no one party has remained in power nationally for an extended period since FDR in the 1930s and 1940s.

Claims of elections being unfair or “thrown” is not new either. I remember during the days of the Kennedy/Nixon election in 1960, there were numerous allegations of “dead people voting” due to interference by Democrats. After the Bush/Gore election there were allegations of corrupted voting machines allegedly due to Republican interference, and we all remember the hanging chads. The Supreme Court stopped the counting much to the chagrin of the democrats. Yet, I don’t remember anyone storming the capital or the Supreme Court over it.

In the 2016 election, those on the left blame James Comey for investigating Hillary Clinton and aiding Donald Trump immediately prior the election. But again, there were no riots, no one mobilizing to rush the capital and threatening to assassinate lawmakers. As I remember it, there were only very unhappy citizens, grumbling a lot, but vowing to energize their side to win in the next election.

It is unfortunate that opinions on so many aspects of life have gotten so volatile in recent years. We urge everyone to respect the rights of others to have different opinions and “agree to disagree” in a civil manner. After around 50 years in newspapers, and over 30 years in publishing Focus Daily News, we have always tried to be fair in everything we publish and will continue to do our best to do so. We want all sides of every issue to be able to express their opinions without fear of retribution like in Russia and North Korea.

We encourage freedom of speech and citizens to share their opinions if such opinions are expressed in a civil way. This will remain true as long as I am alive, and we publish. Please see our “Letters to the Editor” policy above and on Page 2 of every issue.