In printing a letter to the editor last week, posting it on our website (as we have always done) and then sharing that post to Facebook, the Gabber was accused of trying to stir a pot and/or intentionally hurt a reader.
Though it seems everyone’s mind has been made up on the matter, I would like to make something very clear:
Since the return to print last July, it has been our policy to post all our content online and to share it on our social media. ALL posts on our website are intended to be scheduled to Facebook, automatically. We have never been intentionally selective about this process. And, frankly, we are as surprised as anyone why some posts do well and others do not (web traffic for last month’s post about watering restrictions was off the charts. Go figure.).
However, we have had problems with this automated system. Before this week, the last Letters to the Editor post on Facebook was from March 25, but it has always been our intention to post letters to social media, no matter the subject. We do not post them with “teasers” or other incitements to click, as we do many of our news stories. In fact, other than “Letters to the Editor” there is no indication of what that content might be. Very savvy, right?
If we were truly trying to “stir the pot,” I can think of many better ways to do it.
I speak for the paper when I say that what we do every week is work our butts off to tell the community’s stories. Social media is simply another tool to share what is already in our newspaper and on our website. We have absolutely zero interest in stirring up hateful arguments on social media. It’s beneath all of us. And how does that help the paper or the community we serve?
The answer: It doesn’t.
To that end, and to be abundantly clear and transparent to readers who submit letters and commentary, I have revised our standard Letters to the Editor disclaimer below.
The Gabber welcomes and encourages letters and commentary. All letters must be signed with your real name, and should be as brief as possible. Letters may be lightly edited for content and clarity. We will not print letters that incite violence, include hate speech or that are intentionally misleading or inaccurate. Letters sent to the Gabber for print will also appear online and on the Gabber’s social media pages. Commentary posted to the Gabber’s website and social media pages may also be used in print. Opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the Gabber owners, advertisers or staff. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to 2908-B Beach Blvd. S., Gulfport, FL, 33707.