I have had long conversations today with several people regarding the letter to the editor posted from Val Stewart regarding vaccine safety. I have spoken with readers of the site, those who write for me and independent third parties. I have also talked with the letter writer herself.
Based on those conversations, I am removing the letter, and I want to explain why.
First, let me reiterate why I do this work. I have always been committed to reflecting the opinions of all in our community. Which is why I allow a range of comments and letters and opinion pieces.
Second, I want to share that one of my writers, whom I have much respect for, pointed out that the letter in question was written in a way that did not come across as an opinion but as misinformation. The writer also noted that there is a heightened sensitivity in our nation right now to value factual information, even if expressed in an opinion format.
That writer is correct. And that is why I’m removing the letter.
I have also apologized to Ms. Stewart for not giving her better guidance on the importance of expressing her opinions in a well-researched and factual way. I will be creating some guidelines in a new letter to the editor policy coming soon.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a topic that is personal and raw for many. We have been telling stories for the past year about how much our residents have sacrificed, who have lost loved ones, those who are working very hard to keep their families, friends and co-workers safe.
Finally, in my TEDX talk last year, I spoke to why I value our readers and how they have our collective back as a news organization – which includes telling us when we’ve succeeded and when we’ve failed.
As always, I thank my readers for their honesty as they help us navigate how to cover our community.