Editorial – A word about Thumbs

Editorial from the May 7 issue of the Grand Forks Gazette newspaper.

Thumbs up/thumbs down is one of the most popular features in the Gazette week in and week out. It’s a great way for residents to express their opinion succinctly and anonymously.However, we do have a number of rules and guidelines in place for the thumbs up/thumbs down section.For thumbs down, please note that no individuals, businesses, government agencies or community groups can be mentioned or identified. That means saying that “a certain widget shop” is not treating its customers fairly is unacceptable. Even though the writer is being vague, there are only a few widget shops in town so it’s not hard for readers to figure out.Negative comments can be very hurtful for individuals as well as for businesses and groups. The paper is not intended to be a place to air out dirty laundry. We’ve all seen how quickly online message boards can degenerate quickly into name calling and slander.It is certainly acceptable for writers to say a general thumbs down to, say, “people who drive too fast through school zones” or “those who feed the deer.” For thumbs up, mentioning individuals, businesses, or groups is certainly acceptable.For those who wish to have more of their voice published—you are also free to send a letter to the editor. Letter writers have a lot more freedom to express themselves although, of course, slander will not be accepted.Those who write a letter must leave their name and city where they reside.Letters must be under 500 words and may be edited for clarity, taste, legality and/or length. The Gazette reserves the right to refuse to publish letters as well as thumbs up/thumbs down.For letters and thumbs up/down, it is recommended that writers submit by 5 p.m. on Friday for the next week’s paper although that does not guarantee placement.Letters and thumbs up/down may be held depending on space or other considerations.So we ask you to please keep sending your letters and thumbs up/down, it’s your paper after all—just be respectful of others.

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