Tipsline takes a turn
The valley is growing up, and it’s time Tipsline did, too.This week we’ll begin requiring that callers leave their name, for publication. We’ll also require the caller’s phone number where we can reach them if we have questions. The number will not be published. The forum will grow into a way to phone in a letter to the editor, which always has required the author’s name and contact information.Sure, the 20something-year-old feature will no doubt become less populist with the loss of anonymity. Frankly, it will become less mean and stupid, too. I’ve to got to tell you, some of those calls – whew. The truly rich ones get deleted about as fast as a hard-pressed editor can read ’em. I’m sure we’ll be spared some of the trouble with those on the line if a caller has to leave his or her name with the call. They won’t, mainly because they’ll be too embarrassed to be associated with some of those comments.You can still call in about the venal civic sin of the neighbor’s dog pooping in your yard. You can holler at the cyclist taking up too much of the road, or the motorist who has no respect for the cyclist.You can air your beefs about snowboarders, roundabouts, slow cars in the fast lane, speeders, littering and even genuine political issues like taxes, housing, elections, Iraq, what’s wrong with Democrats, what’s wrong with Republicans.And all that. You’ll just have to provide your name like the rest of us who comment on public matters.Truly personal attacks, complaints about particular private businesses (other than the paper, of course), outright bigotry, and the usual lies and libels will be edited out as they have been with all our forums. It’s just time. Requiring names and raising Tipsline to the level of letters to the editor might be a bit milquetoast in some ways on our end. And we’re taking away a forum where people who fear retribution if known can say some things that need to be said.But those calls come very rarely. Too rarely to justify leaving the option available for publication. Nearly all callers need not fear any of that. Their reasons for failing to be accountable for their point ranges from rank cowardice or not wanting to show how often they are calling to leave some illusion that their comments might be widely shared. And sure, some just want to take free shots at the politicians and other public establishment figures. (Which of course the establishment just hates, to everyone else’s craven delight.)Broken down, those reasons just won’t cut it anymore. Tipsline will no longer serve as the print version of talk radio. You can still holler. You just have to take responsibility for your comments with your good name.I can argue the other side of what has always been controversial about Tipsline since Cliff Thompson had the forum in his Beaver Creek Times and Vail Valley Times weekly papers. Hey, I’ve done so often in this very space.But I can live easily with the name requirement, too. After all, you know everything I write, and even my current beard and glasses don’t give me any cover when I’m out in public. It helps that I don’t require people to like me or agree with me about anything. But one of the coolest things about smalltown newspapering, and with a paper as widely read as this one, is meeting people who know your views and will share theirs.So, when you call, be sure to leave your name and your phone number. Then speak out on whatever is bugging or inspiring you.The Web comment feature will change soon, as well. For now, commenters don’t need to leave any clue about their identities other than their word patterns and subjects of interest. But we know a handful of people are commenting like crazy on certain issues – like the childhood development tax and the home rule charter. Same folks, essentially the same negative comments. Pretty much, that’s your local Republican hardcores at it.I’m assured by our technical folks that we’ll be able to require commenters to use screen names so you can see the serial ones more easily.So we’ll preserve the rough and tumble of a robust discussion on the Web site while giving readers and participants more of a clue about who is saying what. The Web comments have reached enough of a mass that we can be more and more selective about what finds its way into old-fashioned print.The reading side of the equation should step up, and political operative types will be shown for how few their numbers really are. This will be a turn for the better. Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 748-2920, or email@example.com. Read his blog at http://www.vaildaily.com/section/BLOGVail, Colorado
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