The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Stop the trolling in the letters

 


To The Eagle:

The Eagle has been generous in its provision of a forum for local letter-writers to critique, endorse or otherwise comment on our elected officials and their would-be rivals. But even generosity has its limits – and, I would argue, this publication is delivering too much of a good thing.

Every election cycle now brings the spectacle of a few prolific letter-writers trolling candidates they don’t like. Recent editions have put this phenomenon on display. It starts with a letter criticizing an incumbent and endorsing his/her rival. Then comes another letter, and another, and another – all written by the same angry person, pounding the same point and steeped in the same bile. Anyone who wants that can go to virtually any comment section on any website. So why let internet-style trolling infect Wahkiakum’s paper of record? There is no sound answer.

Instead, I suggest that The Eagle implement the following policy ahead of each election: Writers should be limited to a single endorsement/condemnation letter per elected office per cycle. In other words, feel free to attack an incumbent commissioner, council member or mayor and praise the virtues of his/her rival – but know that you will be able to do so in print only once unless you’re willing to pay for an advertisement.

That would constitute sound editorial policy, not censorship. Possible benefits include: improved civility in our public discourse and an increase in the number of people willing to expend the time and energy necessary to seek public office. The One Letter Rule also might encourage writers to think more before they dash out this week’s vitriol.

The Eagle should make this change immediately.

George Wehrfritz

California

(Editor’s Note: Excellent suggestion; consider it done.)

 

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