Care is needed with accusations in community

Care is needed with accusations in community

Mistakes, exaggerations could have huge effect

Throughout my journalistic career, I have found that certain rules and policies ensure that everyone the newspaper works with is treated fairly.

Some rules are simple, such as only publishing donation photos of a certain dollar value, $250 and higher, as the time and effort taken by the newspaper to publish the photos has to be justified.

I learned a long time ago to be careful about letters to the editor attacking local businesses. It can be very difficult to determine the veracity of such attacks, some of which can be surprisingly vitriolic considering the minor or even insignificant nature of some of the complaints.

Local businesses spend a lot of time and effort building up their reputation, a resource that’s very important in a smaller, rural community. It can take hundreds of hours, months or even years to build up a strong local reputation for a successful business.

If a newspaper prints a letter that attacks a local business, the number of copies of the paper printed could mean thousands of people will read the nasty letter, whether it’s true or not. If it turns out the letter is untrue or inaccurate, the newspaper bears some responsibility for the attack on the business’ reputation.

I’ve seen instances where attacks against an operation’s reputation were allowed to be printed, then turned out later to be false or exaggerated. The damage was done, and apologies are a lame way to try to make peace.

Thus, my policy as editor is that The Pipestone Flyer doesn’t print letters attacking local businesses unless the business owner is given a copy of the letter first and given a fair chance to address the issue.

One of the duties that’s now part of a newspaper editor’s job is to monitor and employ social media. Social media such as Facebook and Instagram can be useful to get the word out to certain parts of the community regarding the material we have on our newspaper’s website.

However, I’ve noticed some social media users feel comfortable attacking local businesses with minor or insignificant complaints. The complaints often are strongly worded and obviously intended to harm the operation’s reputation and rarely is an opportunity ever given for the business owner to address the issue before the accusations are spread.

Even if the complaint is valid, attacking somebody on social media doesn’t really solve the problem of whether your donut didn’t have enough sprinkles on it or your chicken burger was missing a slice of tomato in the drive-thru.

Anyone concerned enough with the quality of a product or service you obtained from a local business should have the courage to directly contact the business owner and discuss the problem.

If you feel the problem isn’t important enough to directly contact the owner, then it certainly isn’t important enough to post in a social media attack.

Stu Salkeld is editor of The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer and writes a regular column for the paper.

Just Posted

The City of Red Deer sits at 249 active cases of the virus, after hitting a peak of 565 active cases on Feb. 22. (Black Press file image)
Red Deer down to 119 active COVID-19 cases

Province identifies 179 new cases Saturday

Member Terry Parsons’ custom built track vehicle.
Forestburg’s Area 53 Racetrack gears up for action-packed season

Site will also host a portion of the ‘Miles of Mayhem’ event in July

Sabrina Wilde in front of a recently purchased monster truck. Submitted.
Thorsby business women a finalist for 2021 Alberta Women’s Entrepreneurship Award

Sabrina Wilde with Lone Wolf Mechanical is a finalist for the entrepreneurial award.

Grade 12 students at Wetaskiwin Composite High School took place in the annual water fight off school property on June 11, 2021. Shaela Dansereau/ Pipestone Flyer.
Graduating students in Wetaskiwin throw water fight after being told it could result in suspension

Students were told their participation could result in them being barred from graduation ceremonies.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Airport ground crew offload a plane carrying just under 300,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine which is developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
1st batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines won’t be released in Canada over quality concerns

The vaccines were quarantined in April before they were distributed to provinces

Most Read