Friday, December 4, 2009
Originally posted on the fbm.com by Kerry Martin in Ethical Discourse...
"Examiner.com is the insider source for everything local. Covering thousands of subjects across hundreds of cities and towns, Examiners come from all walks of life and contribute unique and original content to entertain, inform, and inspire their readers. Examiners are credible, passionate and knowledgeable local influencers.They have access to tools that help them grow their audience and brand as well as forums where they can connect with other Examiners and experts. Launched in April 2008, Examiner.com serves 110 major markets across the country. Examiner.com is a division of the Clarity Media Group, and is wholly owned by The Anschutz Company."
I don't know if i'm reading that right, but I'm not finding anything about censorship in their mission statement.
"You agree that you will not use the Site to transmit or make available any Content that:
violates any laws, contains any threats, is abusive, tortuous, harassing, vulgar, obscene, indecent, violates any person's rights of privacy or publicity, is defamatory, libelous, hateful, contains any disparaging statements or opinions regarding racial, gender or ethnic background, or is otherwise objectionable;"
There we go. "Otherwise objectionable" is the key phrase here. It means they have the right to censor anything they choose.
That sort of wording is pretty standard in the world of T.O.S. statements -- ours says something very similar -- and serves as a useful tool to rid your site of content that is of an offensive nature.
It is how this tool is implemented that will determine the ethical fortitude of the institution it serves.
For example -- and this is purely hypothetical due to the fact that I have never pulled a single comment or submission from TheFBM -- I would, without question, delete any comment that threatened or disparaged either a member of my staff or a reader of the site.
I would never, in a million years, dream of pulling a counterpoint or challenge to any of the opinions we express.
Web publishers have a responsibility to promote civil debate and public discourse. Not only does it serve to produce some pretty interesting content but it promotes an idea that seems to be lost in the mainstream media:
Freedom of speech does not only apply to speech you agree with.
Apparently, though, that simple fact doesn't seem to strike a chord with the puppet-masters over at Examiner.
Case in point:
Two opposing Wilmington Religion & Politics Examiners, Dean Banks & Keith Wimer, both of whom are familiar with us at TheFBM, started a back-and-forth debate on their respective blogs.
It got relatively heated at one point but generally stayed out of the realm of personal offense (with the exception of some of the comments they received from readers).
This so-called battle of wits reached the point where Mr. Wimer apparently felt the need to contact the site's moderators.
The following is what resulted:
I have unpublished your story "Wimerwhiners: Part 1." While we encourage Examiners to have lively debates, we don't allow Examiners to attack other Examiners and bring down the level of the site. If you have a difference of opinion with another Examiner and want to have a debate, that's fine. But you should work it out with them first and link to each other. How do you want to proceed?"
When Dean explained that the intent of the article was to confront erroneous allegations made by his opponent, and, therefore, to debate, he received this:
"OK, well, this is turning into a he said-he said situation, so if you two could please remain in your corners. I don’t want this to devolve into a situation where, for instance, two pagan Examiners were casting spells on each other. Thanks, Nate"
Nate Ferguson, an Examiner group leader, has yet to explain why the policy for resolving a difference of opinion is censorship, why he only chose to do so to one of the two parties involved in the dispute, or why Examiner.com would even have a category for religion and political opinion if they are so afraid of starting fires.
We have e-mailed Mr. Ferguson a link to this article and offered him a chance to clarify what seems to be an extremely unethical editorial decision. We have also contacted MediaMatters.org, a watchdog group for just this sort of one-sided behavior, and asked them to look into the situation.
In the meantime, I welcome you all to check out Banks' new blog, http://wimerwhiners.blogspot.com/, as well as Wimer's Examiner blog, http://www.examiner.com/x-16146-Wilmington-Religion--Politics-Examiner, and decide where you stand.
That is the point of freedom of speech: when you get to hear both sides of a debate, you are actually left to think for yourself.
One final note on Examiner.com before we go:
Philip Frederick Anschutz, the multi-billionaire conservative activist, runs the site through The Anschutz Company.
This is the same guy who funded a Colorado initiative that attempted to overturn laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and The Discovery Institute, a think tank designed specifically to criticize evolutionism.
I knew Examiner had a Fox-News feel to it.
Maybe this is why they only censor the Liberal side of the story.
Time will tell.