Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Stand up for the not-so-silent majority

AS AN exercise in public democracy it wasn’t quite up there with the fall of the Berlin Wall or the storming of The Bastille.
But the Essex Chronicle Soapbox did show how important it is that free speech continues to have a platform in society.
To recap, we pitched up in Chelmsford High Street on Saturday morning with our own soapbox to give people a chance to air their views free of any editing or interference. As editor Alan Geere said himself from the box: “Forget your Facebook and toss your Twitter, now is the chance for everyone to talk directly to your audience.”
And you duly did. We heard why the troops should be pulled out of Afghanistan, why Stansted should not be developed and why the bible is right or wrong depending on your viewpoint.
But what was most striking was not just the people talking, but also the people listening.
The crowd ebbed and flowed during the two-hour session. Some heckled, some tried to argue but most simply listened in a respectful and admiring silence. All were grateful for the opportunity afforded simply to be part of our democratic exercise.
And now there’s more to come. We plan to make this a fixture on the town calendar. We are working with the Borough Council to find a more permanent home and once we do there will be regular soapbox sessions, featuring the great and good of our community. We’ll invite MPs, community leaders, church and faith organisations, pressure groups and of course you, dear reader.
The media in general and newspapers in particular have an important part to play in the democratic process. People are feeling less and less connected with the process of government and more and more disillusioned with how a chosen (or in some cases appointed) few can have such a dramatic impact on our lives.
We are proud to yet again stand firm with the now not-so-silent majority.
From editorial column on the Essex Chronicle, October 15 2009

10 comments:

  1. Great idea. It sounds like Essex now has its own Speaker's Corner. Newspapers need to do all they can to encourage free speech. It's the lynch pin of a democracy. I hope other newspapers or media organisations follow suit.

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  2. Anonymous10:01 PM

    A WASTE OF TIME, IN RESPECT OF AS TO WHY THE 'NOT SO HAPPY PUNTERS' ABOUT THE CHRONICLE WERE PUBLISHED!! IT'S GONE DOWNHILL IN THE LAST YEAR. WE WANT LOCAL NEWS - AN UP TO DATE WEBSITE WOULD ALSO BE HELPFUL. THERE IS NO POINT IN YOU 'INVITING READERS' TO 'KEEP UP TO DATE' WITH ALL THE NEWS AND THEN, ON JANUARY 25, 2010, THE 'LATEST' SPORTS NEWS ON THE SITE IS FROM JANUARY 21ST, 2010!!! THAT,IN OUR VIEW, IS NOT 'LATEST NEWS'.

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  3. Anonymous10:04 PM

    SORRY, THAT SHOULD HAVE SAID 'WERE NOT PUBLISHED' AS OPPOSED TO 'WERE PUBLISHED'. SEE, THAT'S 'UP TO DATE'!!

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  4. Anonymous1:10 PM

    We say 'hear hear' to the response by 'anonymous'. We, as readers of the Essex Chronicle for over half a century, really enjoyed your feature of a couple of years ago entitled 'Village Of The Week' - it was all about what your paper supposedly prides itself upon - being LOCAL. Then there was the 'Sports Teams from years gone by' - we used to love that, it caused a lot of talk amongst readers who then looked forward to seeing which team/teams would appear in the following week's paper. These are just two examples of what the paper WAS good about, being LOCAL. But we feel that the LOCAL part of your Chronicle has gone in the last year/two years - if something is popular with your readers then why do you suddenly get rid of it?? The old saying of 'if it isn't broke, then why try to fix it'.

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  5. Anonymous9:12 PM

    Any chance of a reply (we've replied, as requested) to those of us who posted the 'responses'??. Or don't your 'local readers' count??

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  6. Anonymous9:54 AM

    AND, A FEW WEEKS ON, I'VE JUST LOOKED AT YOUR WEBSITE ON TUESDAY THE 13TH OF APRIL, AND THE SO CALLED 'UP-TO-DATE' FOOTBALL NEWS IS FROM THURSDAY THE 8TH OF APRIL - NOT A SINGLE RESULT/REPORT OF HOW THE LOCAL FOOTBALL TEAMS GOT ON AT THE WEEKEND!! ANY CHANCE OF A RESPONSE, AS YOU HAVE SAID THAT YOUR READERS' VIEWS ARE WELCOMED?. WHY IS THE WEBSITE 'NEWS' NOT UPDATED ON A MORE REGULAR BASIS THAN A PERIOD OF FIVE DAYS?.

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  7. Anonymous3:52 PM

    Do you not bother to give a reasonable - as opposed to a sarcastic - response, or, as it now appears, you haven't and don't bother about your readers, or who buys the newspaper, etc. Example - Braintree Town Football Club manager Robbie Garvey left the club last Thursday (April the 30th 2010). I have looked on your new and allegedly up-to-date website, and there is not a mention of the manager leaving. It is 4.30pm on Wednesday the fifth of May, so, six days after the story broke (the news has appeared on the Braintree Town Fc website, and even on the Chelmsford City FC website), there has not been a line, let alone a short paragraph, on the Essex Chronicle website. Any reasons or excuses for as to why it hasn't?

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