Reporter bashing is a popular sport and I get my share of licks, which is expected. It means concerned, knowledgeable people are reading the Bladen Journal, especially about issues that concern them.
One such issue is the recent layoffs at Bladen County Hospital. We got anonymous calls and received at least one letter from people complaining about that process. Of course, when people are not willing to go on the record it creates a whole new series of problems. It is hard to take a nameless individual at his or her word.
I understand that people may be afraid to speak out because they fear retribution by going public. In some cases that is a valid fear and people must balance the desire to tell their story with the need for safety. Other people have valid opinions and great ideas but are by nature, quiet folks who do not want to stir up any unpleasantness. They feel uncomfortable in the spotlight.
Than there are the few, the courageous, who are so indignant when they witness something wrong that no amount of threats can keep them quiet. These are the people who get things done by standing up and speaking out publicly.
About the hospital employees, I will be honored to interview former workers who will go on the record to describe their experiences. This is an opportunity to share your side of the tale with everyone. Perhaps there is something that we can all learn from your experience that will help someone in the future. Maybe people on both sides of the conflict can learn from each other and figure out ways to prevent similar situations.
Layoffs are tough. I know what it is like from personal experience, to work hard for an employer, only to watch my job go away due to economic forces beyond my control.
So call or visit if you want your side of the story in the Bladen Journal. Of course, to be fair, I must follow up with the hospital administration to get the other side of the story. That is how it works.
People are always welcome to send letters to the editor and have their own say, in their own words, about whatever is on their mind. However, letters to the editor must be signed with current contact information.
Thanks to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, that I once took a vow to support and defend, freedom of speech is guaranteed in this country. However, that does not mean freedom from responsibility for what you say. If you feel moved to speak out on controversial issues, then tell the truth and be prepared to take heat from people who do not agree with you. There is nothing wrong and everything right about caring people talking things out in public. It is a lot better than violence or lawsuits and probably a more effective way of solving problems in the long run.
I strive to tell both sides of the story, but that is hard to do when one side refuses to go public. I want to be fair as possible to all parties in any dispute. There is one sure thing I know about fairness in the media — if I cover a controversial story fairly, somebody on one side or the other will find a reason to bash me.
—Walter Taylor is a staff writer for the Bladen Journal. He can be reached at 862-4163, or via e-mail at email@example.com.