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Sunday, 2 October 2011

Will the Torrevieja U3A Newsletter change to a Democratic Format?

The Torrevieja U3A (University of the Third Age), of which I am member, like many of the other groups and similar organisations publishes a 'Newsletter' to pass on information about past and future events and group meetings. Like many of the publishers the U3A provides both a hard copy and an electronic copy on its Website.

Unlike many of the other contemporaries it does not offer the opportunity for readers to comment about articles.

In the recent summer edition there is an article in which a statement is made that I wished clarification of. I wrote directly to the author to seek the answer to my question but so far have not received any reply. I am aware that my email was delivered and read.

So I wrote to the Editor of the newsletter pointing out that I would like to know whether the publication offers the right to reply to comments in an article and if so what the procedure is. I was surprised to receive the reply “This is the first time I have been asked this question. I would think that if it is an article from a member or Group leader that you wish to comment on, then it is better you contact the author”. I have pointed out that I have taken that line of action without success.

It surprised me to be informed that I am the first to ask the question. Does it mean that all other readers accept everything that is included is without question? Do they read it as a notification, proclamation, or even an edict, from on high that must not be challenged or commented on? Or is it that there is an apathy to it and so few read it? Or is it that never before has it contained any contentious writings.

I decided to raise this omission of 'Letters to the Editor' or 'Readers Comments' facility with the Chairman of the Torrevieja U3A in writing as follows.

“The current editorial format of the newsletter does not offer any reader, be that from hard copy or the pages on the world wide web, the facilities to comment, or the right of reply, about an article through the publication. The current situation means that any contributor, in the majority of cases a committee member or group leader, of an article can make a statement of believed fact, or an expression of opinion, to the reading public unchallenged.

Without the facilities of replying through the publication, in its varying available sources, an alternative contributor has no way of expressing an opinion about the contents of an article to the initial readership. Any such alternative contribution may be either complimentary or contradictory. The status quo situation does not allow an option.

I would suggest that the committee being responsible for the editorial policy of the newsletter give consideration to a democratic format which allows for third person comments”.

Having received a reply of “the matter will be discussed at the next Committee meeting. I will inform you of the Committee's decision in due course”, I will wait with hope; but not too much! Will the Committee be prepared to provide a facility for the readership to comment on the words of the inner clique of the newsletter columnists? For compliments, I believe an obvious yes. For questions and criticisms, that's another matter. It can't be one without the other; or can it? Or will the decision be to continue to offer neither?

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