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Should we silence some views from this page? E-mail
Opinion
Saturday, 07 October 2017 09:08

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L&T Publisher Earl Watt



You love him, you hate him, and no matter which side you may be on, Larry Phillips makes you feel something.

As a journalist that has been around the world, Phillips has a unique perspective on Liberal, worldwide events and energy issues, having worked in that industry most of his adult life.

Phillips forms his strong opinions based on data. He doesn’t simply shoot from the hip. That’s not to say he has an unfettered political view of the world. Nobody does.

But he generally follows his writings with supportive documentation as the basis for the position he shares.

I’m not defending Phillips’ positions or points of view. When Phillips worked at the paper, we didn’t always agree, and sometimes he convinced me of a certain perspective and sometimes I convinced him. And there were times we couldn’t find a resolution, both finding comfort at how we arrived at our own position.

But never did Phillips believe that my view should be silenced, nor did I believe his did not have the right to be shared.

Phillips retired from the newspaper about two years ago, and as an award-winning writer and columnist, I asked him to continue to share his views by writing a weekly column.

Local column-writing is tough. It’s easy to share an opinion of the day about some far-off issue, but it’s much more difficult to share it about your own hometown.

Thos who agree with Phillips on the issues applaud loudly. Those that don’t grind their teeth and may have given up on reading Phillips’ column altogether.

Sometimes he persuade people by providing facts. Other times he doesn’t.

There are some who would prefer that we not run Phillips’ column.

The problem with that is trying to control the thought process, and picking and choosing who can voice their opinion and who cannot.

I have offered to anyone that disagrees with Phillips to write their own opinion, or even challenge anything stated by Phillips.

I have even sought those with a more liberal point of view to write.

So far, no takers.

I even allow opinions to run that have been critical of the paper and me.

That’s what the opinion page is for, robust discussions about the issues.

Phillips can tell you that on controversial issues, I have required him to provide the supporting data on some of his claims. I haven’t required that from virtually anyone else. But Phillips is a trained journalist, and I hold him to a higher standard.

And he has provided the documentation.

There are some who do not understand the difference between opinion and news or the ability to separate the newspaper from the opinion of an individual.

We run almost daily the policy that states, “Letters, op-ed columns and political cartoons do not necessarily reflect the editorial positions or opinions of the Leader&Times or its employees.”

And Phillips has a strong voice and a solid following. So does the comic strip “Blondie,” but it doesn’t mean we endorse everything they say.

And we shouldn’t, not just for views shared by Phillips, but views shared by anyone. Those who write a letter to the editor should know that they do not have to agree with or expect anyone else to agree with their position, but that they still have a forum to express their view if it fits within the policy (no consumer complaints, not libelous, etc.).

Sometimes people will even write in favor of a candidate for office, and sometimes they may oppose a candidate (again, see the policy printed on this page almost every time it is printed).

As a newspaper, we have taken a position for the 26 years that I have been here that we will not endorse candidates for local office. We do reserve our voice to endorse at the federal and state level.

First, we believe that local voters, when properly informed, will make good decisions on their own, and we believe that local media provides adequate coverage to inform our readers. Therefore, endorsing makes no sense.

Second, we believe an endorsement is equally harmful as helpful, because most people don’t want to be told how they should vote.

Like any good news outlet, we do seek strong voices to participate in local discussions, and we believe Phillips provides that as well as others.

But there is always room for more.

If you want to chime in about an issue of the day and reach a broader community audience, we would love to hear from you.

It’s not about agreeing or judging, it’s about having an open discussion about the issues

 

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About The High Plains Daily Leader

The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

For more, contact us.

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