This morning, someone writing under the handle "fallen soldier family member" wrote:
"I think that it is great that you want to give gratitude to our soldiers both living and dead, but you are sometimes wrong for how you do it. You publish wonderful things about our soldiers, yet you allow people to right hateful and disrespectful things on your blog. I asked your newspaper to remove some of the blogs for the respect that my family deserved, and you didn't, but now you want me to give you credit. It's all about getting a good story with you people and not thinking about how the family would react to the bad blogs. I don't support the register anymore. It is a insult to my family and the family of other's who have asked that you would remove hateful blogs. Our soldiers are worth way more then what you could ever publish."
I am sorry that what some people have written in the comments on our stories causes you pain. But the solution you suggest is not as simple as it sounds. This business comes down to one rule, above all, and it isn't the almighty buck. It's, as former Akron Beacon-Journal editor-in-chief Jack Knight once put it, "Get the truth, and print it."
What we strive for is to represent the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. I am repulsed by criticism of a soldier who gave his life for the rest of us, regardless of whether the war was a good idea or not, but we just cannot censor it solely for that reason. Moreover, when it does come to money, we make our living from free speech, so it's always hard for us to squash it. And part of what our soldiers are fighting and dying for is the freedoms of our country, freedoms like free speech.
But whatever rules we make -- and we are still making them -- whatever censorship we do provide, we constantly have to square it with the plain fact that our job is to shine a light into dark corners, not to cover things up. That is the dilemma we struggle with every day.
Now I don't know what specific comments you're referring to, so I can't say whether they were merely criticism or if they were nasty, non-substantive, or libelous. If they were the latter they should have been taken down, and I'm sure they were if you brought them to our attention.
If it's unverifiably accusatory, then we take it down, because that violates the rule. That is not exposing the truth. But if it's opinion, no matter how much we disagree with it, then I have to ask this, where do we get the right to take it down?