Penning an open letter to anonymous callers, writers
Dear Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous Caller (or letter writer),
Hello. My name is Michael Caldwell, publisher of The Advocate-Messenger. You probably already know that since you reached out to me, but I just wanted to make sure because I think it is important to be up-front and direct in all aspects of life.
Everything I do for print here at the newspaper has my name on it.
If I write a news story, it has my byline proudly and clearly at the top. If I write an opinion column, like the one you are reading now, my name and smiling face will always be clearly presented. (I can’t help it that I am not a little easier on the eyes. Blame my parents).
We hold everyone to these same standards.
If you want to have a letter to the editor printed, you must sign your name. Similar rules apply to guest columnists, political advertising and other forms of commentary. The same goes for being quoted in a news story, in almost all circumstances.
I believe anonymity is the shield of cowards.
If an individual will not put his or her name on something, I question the source, their intentions and the information itself.
With anything I do or say, I am willing to stand up and take ownership for it. Everyone should do the same.
Each month I receive a handful of phone calls or letters to the editor from one anonymous source or another.
Callers want to express their views and thoughts, something which I strongly support and welcome. However, it is a common courtesy to reveal who is talking.
Many people say they are afraid their name will end up in the newspaper — something that would never happen unless it was clear they were being interviewed.
Others, I believe, simply like the comfort of being able to say whatever they want, knowing it will never be traced back to them.
Sometimes, that is when the behavior devolves into an embarrassing display of human nature. The cursing starts. Insults abound. Accusations against others in the community run rampant.
And all are coming from a shielded individual.
I have little respect for someone who wants to be critical but then won’t even tell you who they are or where their information comes from.
Many times, voicemail messages include tirades that are not fully explained or simply do not make sense. People ask questions but leave us no way of answering.
Letter writers are the same; often defaming others in the community or perpetuating blatant lies from the protection of anonymity. Then these same people are upset when they don’t ever see their words printed.
I do not believe that anonymous callers and writers actually care about getting answers to their questions or listening to other views that may differ from their own. Anonymity is only good for closed-minded discussions with no actual care given to enlightenment or understanding.
My door is always open. My phone is always on. My e-mail is always checked and returned. I encourage anyone in the community to contact me to talk, debate, discuss or just get to know each other — but I would ask that you tell me who you are.
Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Advocate-Messenger and Danville Living magazine. He can be reached at (859) 469-6452 or by email at email@example.com.
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