The Mercury prides itself on being the voice of the people of Maitland.
It does that in a number of ways – through the reporting of people’s views in news stories, as well as via letters to the editor and the relatively new means of communication, blogs.
This newspaper recently celebrated its 170th anniversary and the opinion page has been an important part of that long and proud history.
But as the Mercury’s editor I will not stand for that privilege being abused.
Some months ago the Mercury got behind a campaign to bring fresh produce markets to Maitland. I stand by that decision. Our motivation in promoting such venture was simple – to try to make Maitland an even better place in which to live, work, bring up our families, encourage enterprise and visit.
In the lead-up to the inaugural Harvest Markets on Saturday, a significant number of blogs were posted on the Mercury’s website that were critical of the businesswoman behind this venture and also the Mercury’s journalists for their reporting of her venture. Since Saturday, our website has been inundated with similar blogs.
A check, however, has revealed that they were all posted from the same computer using different names – even “Local Farmer”.
This one cowardly person posted more than 60 derogatory blogs. None have been approved for publication.
Maitland’s fresh produce markets will survive or die according to one of the principles of economics – supply and demand. If there is a demand for fresh markets in this city and that gap is filled then they will succeed; if there’s isn’t the demand, or they fail to meet customer’s expectations, then they won’t.
As the editor, I also will not tolerate derogatory comments being made about my reporters.
This does not mean that the Mercury is beyond criticism. It’s not. If we make mistakes, we correct them. If we do the wrong thing, we face the consequences.
But the Mercury’s reporters are qualified, hard working and I hold them all in the highest regard.
Don’t take any of them on under the cover of an anonymous blog – come and face me as the editor of this newspaper.
Fair and fearless reporting, letters to the editor and yes, blogs, go to the heart of democracy.
I continue to welcome your legitimate comments – there will always be space for them in this paper.