A call for listening and objective journalism


Hours before America’s invasion of Iraq, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, on “Larry King Live”, was being goaded into denouncing either or both Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush. His Holiness suggested that rather than demonizing others, we might distinguish between their speech and behavior, and their humanity. Rejecting the human being, explained His Holiness, prevents learning; keeping an open mind protects curiosity and progress.

I offer this anecdote as a practice that your publication might employ in reporting the divisiveness that has arisen regarding an oyster farm operating within a marine wilderness area.

I was, until recently, neutral on this issue, an argument that would be resolved in courts of law. My concern has instead been the heated emotions and diminished comity that has surfaced through frequent vitriolic personal attacks.

This atmosphere of disagreeableness rather than disagreement has, in my view, been fomented by the lack of objective journalism on the part of both local newspapers. The public lynching in print of our neighbors and of organizations whose work make possible our extraordinary landscape has in turn given license to outrageous expressions of hate.

As with any relationship there cannot be progress until all parties stop talking and listen, without considering how to respond, but simply listen, really listen. Might I suggest that in future, when your newspaper feels a need to opine or to publish yet another article on the oyster farm versus marine wilderness issue, that you post side-by-side a divergent opinion or article authored by someone with a differing perspective?

Marc Matheson

Editor’s note: We enthusiastically support divergent opinions. We publish letters and opinion pieces as they are submitted. Everyone is welcome to write letters to the editor. Everyone is free to respond to those letters. We don’t instruct people what to write.