Need more valuable interaction

Question: I have had a chance to read the blogs at the SR Web site. And, quite frankly, the "Ask the Editor" stuff is not very interesting. I think most well-read people have a general idea of how a newspaper works, why it prints what it prints, and why it doesn't print some things. Most often, the people who write to that site are actually asking, why you did or didn't do this certain offensive thing. It is a more "how dare you" type interaction.

Quite frankly, this community doesn't need that kind of exposure. It is an open invitation for the uniformed and "logic-impared" members of the community to parade their ignorance in front of your readership. No one profits from this mess. Witness your letters to the editor section, which I have contributed to in the past. It is a very sad reflection on the community. Some type of screening, any type of screening, would be valuable. I think it gives some people the impression that the paper is trying to be "fair and balanced" by publishing those opinions. Of course that is false. If some type of screening or even solicitation of truly informed individuals was would be valuable, instead of the circus it now is. -- S. Bergstrom, Spokane

Answer: Actually, I find some of the interaction on this blog to be relatively thoughtful.

But the more important issue raised by the writer is whether or not we should screen or limit comments to this blog and letters to the editor for intelligence and quality of thought. That's not a role I want.

Our letters columns are messy, noisy and confused -- and sometimes thoughtful, articulate and purposeful. But ideas I find ludicrous, comments I find silly or stupid will resonate with someone else who finds them valuable.

We really do provide a free marketplace of ideas on our letters page because we believe in the power of that marketplace, over time, to illuminate the issues of our day. The letters columns are not built to make us look fair and balanced. They are there to give people a voice and we do our best to give those voices freedom to be profound or silly, thoughtful or thoughtless. -- Steve Smith, editor

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