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OpEdNEws Demands Civility Among Disagreeing Progressives

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Rob Kall     Permalink
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There are some readers who think that if an editor changes a title, or instructs a writer to change a title, or delete a statement, or words in an article, that's censorship. WRONG! Censorship is done by the government. Leaders in the media have the right and responsibility to edit.

OpEdNews has grown BECAUSE of our editorial policies and actions. We encourage some writing. We reject some writing. We insist that writers meet standards and rules we set. Some of our writers join us and stay with us, because we HAVE standards and rules.

One rule that is already important and that is going to be more important in coming months is that we demand civility in articles and comments. If a writer fails to maintain civility, that writer will be edited or even further steps will be taken.

Get used to it. Progressives will be disagreeing over the coming nine months. I want OpEdNews to be a place where progressives in all parties can advocate for their candidates and criticize other candidates. But I DEMAND civility.

One writer who was instructed to change a title of his article yesterday thinks this is just another website.

"What's the big deal? This site isn't the New York Times!" a comment said (I paraphrase him.)

Writers can post anything they want to their low traffic websites and blogs, and see as many readers in a month, as we get in an hour or even five minutes.

Part of the reason this site gets over half a million readers a month is the editorial judgment and leadership exercised. Some writers join opednews because of the way we manage our content. Part of that management means refusing to tolerate nasty, small minded attacks, unsubstantiated attacks and claims. And our efforts, albeit not always successful, at keeping things civil in this community are being increased.

Yesterday, one writer responded to my insistence that he change the title (without giving him the words to use) and document the exact quote he was using to base his assertion that Obama was a liar, with an attack on me at his website, citing private emails I sent him, which he has, since, removed. He took offense at being edited with a firm hand.

Several members commented that I was engaging in censorship.

If you think my action was censorship, then you have a naive concept of censorship and frankly, I don't have a lot of patience for it anymore.

There are indymedia sites where anything goes. And they have a valuable role to play. I am not disparaging them. Go read through them-- comb through the un moderated heap of articles, the lame journalism and pathetically written and unsubtantiated or documented articles you find there, along with the gold. People come here with expectations that we're doing our job, screening articles for quality, newsworthiness, journalistic integrity... We don't always succeed to everyone's expectations. An email received minutes earlier, cancelling a subscription, by a university emeritus professor who complained of our lack of standards and allowance of too much bombast probably primed me in my response to the article I edited yesterday.

But get used to it. We're trying to make OpEdNEws a civil place. I've been through this before. We are demanding quality writing. We are demanding civility. Name calling and insults are not a part of intelligent, adult, meaningful discourse we seek to support here.

Telling a person his brain doesn't work well is not acceptable. Calling a person a liar-- that's what children do. You want to question Obama's claims-- fine. Do it responsibly. Cite, with an embedded link, the exact words Obama used. Then document how he lied. And cut out the name calling. I know it's hard to do. I know I personally lapse on that rule myself. I'm working on it and will gladly accept feedback and reminders.

I make mistakes and I welcome the feedback either in comments or emails. But I won't tolerate one of my writers, who I write editorial feedback to privately, in an email, publishing my emails, without my permission, in a pique of anger. That's reason for banning from the site.

One reader said that OpEdNews is not the New York Times. Well, we want to be as valued and respected as the NY Times. It takes making a stand, having standards, maintaining rules to get there. So I say to writers-- write well, follow good journalistic standards, stay civil, don't hold back on ideas and supported claims-- even speculate, but make it clear it's speculation. And if you can't follow these reasonable rules, or feel that this is censorship (which is total BS) I wish you the best and goodbye. Either get on board or get out of the way. You can write for your blog or find other sites that will accept your work.

I'll repeat. The coming nine months will see progressives supporting a range of candidates-- first, the competition between Obama and Clinton will get more contentious. We at opednews will support articles pro and con both candidates, but they must remain civil and professional. No name calling. At the same time, third party candidates like Cynthia McKinney will emerge. Support for them and the idea of third party candidacy is also acceptable here at OEN. And again, civility must reign. No name calling.

It is healthy for progressives, who share agreement on many issues to disagree on some-- candidates to support, immigration, Israel/Palestine, 911 Truth, Atomic Energy, Ethanol... and the best approach, in my opinion is to keep the conversation open-- sans nastiness.

As we take a firmer stand on our policy, some will call it censorship. We disagree and, frankly, if you can't stand it, we wish you well as the door slams your behind as you say goodbye. If you can't be civil, you're welcome to read what we publish, but you are not a welcome part of the commenting or content posting community.
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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project.

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Rob Kall's Bottom Up Radio Show: Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the Huffingtonpost.com

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