“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” More than 200 years ago, the French writer Voltaire expressed that thought. 
    I agree whole heartedly. That thought should be the mantra of every journalist and every newspaper in our country. If it isn’t, then they have missed the boat. And I can tell you, there are a lot of journalists standing out on the dock wondering where the boat is.
    {mosimage}We are the Fourth Estate and it is not our job to decide the issues. It is our job to report the issues. It is not a reporter’s job to slant an issue, make assumptions or add in their opinion. A reporter’s job is to report the facts. Just the facts and nothing but the facts. That seems to have gotten lost somewhere along the way.
Over the past few months, we have taken much criticism from readers who think we should go further in reporting a story. They want us to take conjecture and hearsay and incorporate it into a story. That’s not going to happen. Not under my name and not on my watch.
    If you find an opinion in this paper, it’s going to be clearly labeled under the header Opinion or it’s going to be here in the publisher’s notes. That’s where it belongs. And, in the confines of those opinion pages, you’re going to read a lot of stuff you might not agree with. I know I do.
    It is not our job to silence that opinion — but rather to give it voice. And we’re happy to do so. The ideal that Voltaire communicated so clearly 200 years ago is alive and well at Up & Coming Weekly.
    Over the past two weeks, we have come under a firestorm of criticism for allowing  contributing writers to express their opinions about the upcoming election — most notably columns that have been less than complimentary to Sarah Palin. We’ve been called a “liberal rag,” we have had folks tell us they won’t read our newspaper anymore and we even had one business owner remove our rack from his business.
    Good. We’re doing our job.
    In a free society, one of the greatest ways for an individual to express his thoughts and opinions is through the editorial pages of a newspaper. Again, those thoughts and opinions, by design, fall under a heading that reads “Opinion.” Up & Coming Weekly has built its reputation on being Fayetteville and Cumberland County’s community newspaper. We are the people’s alternative voice. We are the communities “other side of the story.” We have been your voice for more than 13 years. We don’t take sides, and we welcome contributions from all sides of the political spectrum. We have never refused to accept articles from individuals because of race, religion or political affiliation.
 If readers want to read more conservative opinion pieces rather than the recent liberal point of views then write it and send it in. Then, if we don’t put it in the newspaper then you can call us a “liberal rag.” To date, we have only heard from one side.
    Do you have an opinion? Then share it with us as long as it is not libelous or slanderous. We love hearing from you and invite your letters and opinions. Our address is on almost every page of this publication. Let me give it to you again — send any letters, opinions, features and articles to me personally at editor@upandcomingweekly.com.
I look forward to reading and printing them. There’s a chance that I may not agree with your opinion, but I surely support your right to have it and express it.

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