The Sequim Gazette, in Washington State, has had its fill of anti-Wal-Mart bashing. Publisher Sue Ellen Riesau published a column recently in which she announced “We’re going to bring an end to ‘beating a dead horse’ over the same issues. Unless you have something new to offer regarding the topic, we will not publish any more complaints about Wal-Mart. We encourage those of you who still need to vent about Wal-Mart to send your letters directly to the city council members.” This ultimatum from the Publisher apparently was triggered by a letter to the editor which suggested that “more than words passed over and under the table” during city council/Wal-Mart negotiations. The newspaper apologized for running that letter, and issued an apology to the Mayor and City Council. The Publisher said it was her fault the letter got in, and said she “let it get by me.” The newspaper admits that there has been something to complain about regarding the lack of an ‘open process’ during the Wal-Mart hearings (the case is now in court), but apparently the paper decided Wal-Mart had become a ‘dead horse’ not worth more public discourse — unless “something new” was contained in the letter. So for now, anti-Wal-Mart letters are being discouraged by the Sequim Gazette.
It would be fascinating to require that public discourse only consist of “something new.” Such a rule might bring to a halt the level of discussion that takes place in most city halls across the nation. The “something new” criteria would reduce public discussion to a dribble, and raise questions about who is judging what “something new” really means? The Gazette may feel like Wal-Mart is a “dead horse”, but if the topic is raw meat in the community, and if small town newspapers aspire to be a windown into such communities, then papers like the Gazette should be willing to let the ‘dead horse’ get whipped — if that’s what the public feels it needs to do. I would encourage readers of this website to communicate directly with the Gazette about Wal-Mart, by sending your letters to the editor to: [email protected] Preface your letter by saying that it says “something new.”