This rule has obviously not applied in past months on The Sanford’s Herald’s website, as our comment section has become increasingly mean-spirited and in some cases – downright nasty.
I’ve always been of the mindset that people should be able to freely express their opinions, and a few years back during election time when those unsavory comments were aimed at me, I allowed them to remain online in the spirit of free speech.
Then I received this letter a few days back from Sanford resident Delany Dean:
“I moved back to Sanford a couple of years ago, after being away for a lot of years – and I'm delighted to be here. I love this old town and am proud of many aspects of the vibrant town it has fought to become over the years.
“One thing I find embarrassing, however, are the public internet comments on The Sanford Herald. I don't read them often because they are so very often upsetting – there are frequently vicious comments that bring shame and disrepute to our community.
“I spend a lot of time and energy trying to convince my friends from other parts of the country that we are a racially diverse community, and a good place to live. I hope none of them ever look at the online Sanford Herald – if they do, they'll laugh in my face.”
And after a review of the comments on the website, I had to agree.
Now sure, I could dedicate hours to milling through the comment section, deleting which ones I think should go, but then I would get into a whole other issue of deciding which are too mean, too vicious, etc.
Then I remembered The Sanford Herald’s mission statement: “The Sanford Herald is an independent source of responsible and relevant journalism serving the needs of our readers and advertisers, and strives to be a positive influence in the community.”
Now I don’t fool myself into thinking The Sanford Herald has some great nationwide readership, but in the past months I think it is fair to say there are definitely more eyes – both near and far – looking at the Herald online.
And because our newspaper is the only representing a city that has become the focus of a nationwide debate – I’d rather strive to be the positive influence in the community, as opposed to a free exchange of hostility.
So in that vein, The Sanford Herald’s website (www.MySanfordHerald.com) will no longer be accepting comments.
Read all you like (for free) and if you’re still dying to get something off of your chest feel free to send a letter to the editor at RDelinski@MySanfordHerald.com.
And hey, maybe in this “time of healing” for our city, we should all think about that phrase that our teachers, parents and elders used to remind us of when we were young. Because like another saying goes – “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”
Comments can be sent to Herald Editor Rachel Delinski at RDelinski@MySanfordHerald.com.