Press should welcome right to reply

In common, I am sure, with many other journalists, I am
uncomfortable with our profession’s resistance to a statutory “right of
reply” on the dubious grounds that it somehow endangers freedom of
speech.

Surely the right to express one’s viewpoint should not be
the exclusive preserve of doorstepping hacks who may or may not have an
axe to grind on behalf of themselves or, more likely, their publishers?

The
press should be a vibrant forum that allows the expression of a wide
spread of ideas and opinions and that includes providing unfettered
access to those of opposing views or who feel, rightly or wrongly, that
they have been the victims of misrepresentation, bias or some other
wrong in our pages.

It makes commercial sense too.

Time and again readers reveal that the letters page is one of the first they turn to.

We
have the rest of the publication in which to exert our own freedom of
expression; why not let the rest of the world also have their say,
which, if it conflicts with our own stance, simply serves to generate a
lively debate and pull in more readers?

I find it odd that an
industry which so often denigrates the attempts of the nation’s police
forces to police themselves is so unwilling to have the spotlight
turned on itself. Is it, maybe, because we have something to hide?

Roger St. Pierre St. Pierre Editorial Services Dulwich

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