A note to the readers on objectivity and Coastsider
A couple of readers have accused Coastsider of bias. Most recently, Don Bacon has raised the issue in a long piece (2,800 words!) on the Review’s TalkAbout forum. I’m not going to directly answer Mr. Bacon on a point-by-point basis. I don’t have the time to write it and you don’t have the time to read it. You’re welcome to read his piece and draw your own conclusions about where he’s coming from. But I want to restate what I’m trying to do here.
I’ve been working in the news business for about 20 years. There are no more dedicated navel-gazers than journalists, and objectivity is one aspect of the journalistic navel that gets more than its share of contemplation.
One thing I know is that it’s impossible for a single individual to be objective. Two years ago, I wrote, "Coastsider isn’t always objective, but it does have principles". My commitment to our readers has always been to be thorough, accurate, fair, and transparent.
Coastsider is a personal site. It’s about what Barry’s interested in, supplemented by contributions from our readers. I don’t always have time to write about the things I really care about, often because I don’t have time to do the research required to write authoritatively or add something new to the debate. The park in Half Moon Bay is a good example. Another is the proposed stoplight at Terrace. Most of our readers get that. The first question I usually get is, "How do you find the time to do Coastsider?" A few get annoyed that I haven’t taken up their pet crusade, but are unwilling to do the legwork themselves.
But Coastsider is designed to be a forum for discussion of Coastside issues, and not a platform for me. Everyone has the right to reply to any story in comments. Anyone can start a topic in Town Hall. Anyone can submit a story to Coastsider itself. I’ve published major opinion pieces and plenty of comments from both sides of the divide. My only rule is that we carry on this conversation in a civil manner. To that end, I’ve edited, deleted, or bounced submissions from both sides.
Today, I had to revoke the Town Hall posting privileges of one of our members, mainly for being disruptive and insulting. I hated doing it, but my priority is to make sure that the community has a friendly place to discuss the issues.
I try to avoid a lot of introspective writing on Coastsider. I think we all lose if we’re spending more time discussing the discussion than the issues that matter in the community. However, I think it’s important that everyone understand what we’re up to here.