WVN #232: An anarchist group?
- Dear Wayland Voter,
The chairman of the Wayland Democratic Town Committee
recently described Wayland Voters Network as "a group of
people who, as far as I can tell are either anarchists or
libertarians of some sort..."
"The WVN folks oppose change," Chairman Jon Saxton
continued, "and everything else that to me makes a town like
Wayland a destination and a great place to live, including strong
schools, well paid teachers, strong public safety and public
works services and yes even the idea of a town center that,
horror of horrors, might have stores in it."
The chairman's Yahoo Groups message to Town Committee
members on Feb. 9 doesn't purport to represent opinions of
other Wayland Democrats. Still, his heated and false
accusations make this a good time for a reminder about what
WVN is and what it stands for.
First, WVN isn't a "group." It is an independent newsletter that
encourages citizens to study the issues and to vote. It supports
openness and transparency in government. WVN publishes
information and analysis that you won't necessarily find
It's not a substitute for the Town Crier and the Boston Globe's
coverage of Wayland. It is a complementary source of
WVN isn't affiliated with any group or party. Readers include
active Republicans and Democrats. No anarchists that we know
WVN readers, by the way, often encourage increased and
thoughtful participation by forwarding newsletters to others. A
large number of public-spirited readers volunteer their time and
resources to deliver paper copies of the newsletters to those
who choose not to receive them by email.
Mr. Saxton characterizes WVN newsletters as propaganda
because WVN "will not include opposing points of view." He
seems to have overlooked two important and obvious facts:
-- WVN doesn't endorse candidates or positions.
-- WVN newsletters report the various positions on issues.
Mr. Saxton decries "propaganda and incessant drumbeat of
negativity and conspiracy." What he calls negativity is to many
others open-mindedness or skepticism.
Critics, many of them affiliated with political action groups, have
fired salvos at WVN since it was founded by professional
journalists in 2004. They have claimed that it is impossible to
correct WVN errors. (In fact we publish corrections.) They
suggest that WVN is somehow propagandistic because it
doesn't offer discussion boards. (Like many newsletters, WVN
doesn't have the resources to offer a variety of services,
particularly a forum for postings that could be inaccurate and
What is it about WVN that makes certain people so angry?
When the School Committee expressed great confidence in
being reimbursed for a new high school, would voters have been
better off without WVN's reporting the state's warning that the
town might have to foot the entire bill?
Would voters have been better off not knowing about
environmental hazards with the new artificial turf at the high
school? About the details of an override? About the many recent
examples of inaccuracy in property assessments?
WVN has reported the complexity of the Town Center project and
was first to write about the two lawsuits that must be resolved
before the project continues. Some WVN readers tell us they
look forward to the mixed-use development. Others tell us they
don't. But readers agree that they want to know what's going on.
If the news is not what they expected, so be it. WVN readers, we
trust, think for themselves.
Whatever power journalism possesses comes mainly from
imparting information, not editorializing. Useful coverage often
begins with asking questions about the official version of
events. As an old joke in the trade goes, "If your mother says she
loves you, check it out."
The intemperance of attacks on WVN suggests that some critics
would prefer a less-informed electorate.
Reporters like to believe that journalism is what somebody
doesn't want you to know. The rest is publicity.
-- Michael Short
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor