Editorial: The role of the press
Created by StaffWriter on 2/27/2014 9:43:05 PM

Editorial: The role of the press

From the Editors of SpC,

The Writers and Editors of the Steampunk Chronicle generally have a really great time: we review books, we interview members of our small community about their achievements, we show beautiful pictures and videos of creations, concerts, inventions and weddings. As such, we are proud of being the newspaper of record for the Steampunk Community.  We are, in fact, your newspaper.  From time to time, we find ourselves looking into the hard issues that face our community.

This past two weeks, we found ourselves fulfilling the more important and much more serious function of the free press in society, in particular the information-sharing and watchdog functions. We are not a blog. We are not a literary magazine. We don't publish works of fiction. We ARE a newspaper. We follow the standards of the fellowship of professional journalists. (Radio Television Digital News Association). We investigate, we fact check, we verify,  and throughout this process we try to remain impartial. In this particular case and in our small community, this is sometimes difficult.

It's been an emotionally costly two weeks for all involved in the writing of Anachrocon Reorganizes Amid Controversy. The two most painful aspects of this are as follows: The SpC found itself interviewing and investigating its friends and members of our own local community, and in doing so we listened to the wave of people who wrote to us saying, "I am ashamed that I didn't speak up sooner."

One of the things that we say to the people we interview is "Let us help you tell your side, your story." In this case some responded with variations of, "I won't help you spread falsehoods or let you dig through this rubbish."  But "rubbish", though not pretty, is not the same as falsehoods.  As journalists, we could no longer allow the lid to stay on the various dumpsters of our community.

So we listened, we investigated, attempted to corroborate and separate proof from possibly specious allegation. When we asked questions, we got some answers, some misdirection, and almost always new questions. Throughout this process, we questioned everything, including ourselves.  We cross-checked each other and questioned every step to ensure that we were always mindful of our role as ethical journalists and our responsibilities to the community.

We faced a lot of resistance to our investigation. Our motives were questioned. Friends abandoned us. But, when faced with, "Who are you to dredge this up?" we answer:

We are the press.  It's our responsibility -- no matter how much we don't enjoy it. And there was no joy in this for us these two weeks.

By looking into the alleged incidents at AnachroCon, we were not attempting to open a wound, but to help to start the cleansing process. Going through this story and talking to members of the community, we hope that we have facilitated action, encouraged discussion, and allowed healing to begin. This is the role of the working press.

Now we at the Steampunk Chronicle issue this call to action:
If you see something that harms an individual or our community - tell someone.
If you are made to feel uncomfortable by the actions of others - speak up.

And we especially call on those in public leadership positions within our community, the event organizers:  Enforce of existing policies against harassment and strengthen them if you need to.    Apply these policies equitably to all in the community, no matter their influence.  Make establishment of clear procedures an urgent priority. Train your staff to respond effectively. Make our community stronger, more inclusive, and safer for all.

"Deadline" Dan Dougherty - Publisher
Emilie P. Bush - Editor In Chief
Trish Nolde -  SpC Senior Editor
Vernard Martin - SpC Senior Editor

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