by Bill Boyle
There was some controversy last week over a paid advertisement in the July 20 San Juan Record.
Diné Bikeyah placed the ad, which thanked federal officials for visiting San Juan County and urged support for the Bears Ears National Monument.
Several readers suggested that I should not have accepted the advertising. Let me explain.
The San Juan Record is a general interest newspaper focusing on San Juan County, UT. As such, we provide a forum for anyone who is interested in happenings in the county.
There are two sections of the paper, including the advertising content (which is purchased by the advertiser) and the editorial content (which is controlled by the paper).
Advertising is the lifeblood of the newspaper and I could not survive without it. Thank you to the San Juan Record advertisers, who are very good to me. I hope you (and our readers) are well served by your advertisements in the paper.
However, this goes beyond the revenue that I need in order to survive (and to assist my four children who will be attending college this fall!).
Providing a diversity of opinion, at the very core, is what a newspaper is all about.
Even though many San Juan County residents view the proposed monument as a threat to our way of life, other county residents support it.
As I wrote last week in the San Juan Record, “There is diversity of opinion in San Juan County and anyone who attempts to convince you otherwise is trying to manipulate you.”
It is certainly way beyond my pay grade to stand at the gateway to the paper and decide who is right and who is wrong before they can enter. That is why we have a newspaper, to discuss issues of critical importance.
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If you would like to participate in the public forum which is a newspaper, you have several choices.
With a paid advertisement, the space is yours. Of course, we reserve the right to reject advertising for whatever reason and there are legal restrictions that we must adhere to (sorry, but no marijuana advertising from Colorado!).
Another option is on the editorial side of the paper. You can submit a letter to the Editor, a service that we provide at no charge.
We generally run every letter we receive, with very few exceptions. Exceptions include letters which contain libel, slander or are in poor taste, letters which have nothing to do with San Juan County, or letters about issues that have already been addressed at length in the paper.
Whether or not the Editor agrees with the content is never a part of the decision to run a letter. It is absurd to try to infer my opinion by the content of advertising or letters to the Editor.
If I feel the need to express my opinion as the Editor, I will do it in a clearly marked editorial under my name.
In the case of the Bears Ears National Monument, I have published several pieces in which I clearly oppose the monument and express support for the Public Lands Initiative (PLI).
Other opinions are also clearly expressed by our esteemed columnists. The columns are clearly marked and opinions therein are the writer’s opinion.
Another section of the paper is the news section, which contains articles written from a journalistic perspective and are intended to show an objective view of the issue. Remaining objective is always a goal for news articles.
It is often very difficult to write news articles during highly contentious debates, such as what is happening right now in San Juan County. We agonize over our coverage, and we do the best we can. Personally, I am proud of our efforts.