Caution: Opinions expressed here

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Election season has a special way of bringing out the worst in people. That's especially true this year, because a man who has some of the worst qualities a person can have is running for president.

I know, I know. Here I am going on about Donald Trump once again. Can't those crazy liberals find something else to talk about besides Trump? After all, what did Trump do that was so bad? He has said and done so many terrible things that it would take a series of columns to cover it all.

Last week, my boss Scott Loftis wrote a column addressing some of these things. Scott wrote about how dangerous mob mentality can be, saying that has become abundantly clear by all the people who have expressed support for a candidate as xenophobic as he is sexist. Trump is only one human, Scott wrote, but the people who support his dangerous ideas are part of a large group. That's where this situation becomes dangerous, he said.

That column received quite a bit of backlash on social media. We all kind of expected that. After all, Carroll County News covers an area where many conservative Republicans live. Scott and I know our liberal views don't reflect how everyone in the community feels, and that's a big reason why we choose to share these ideas. A newspaper is nothing without community input.

Ideally, the columns we write would inspire some of you to write a response, which we would run on our Opinion page. These columns aren't meant to alienate anybody. Our utmost goal is to always represent the community, through the stories run on the front page and the letters to the editor published on the Opinion page.

I'll admit some of the responses to Scott's column disappointed me. It's OK to be upset when a newspaper columnist insults a politician you feel represents your views. Some people responded that way, and I can understand it. It is not OK to assume the columnist is a bad journalist because he or she expressed an opinion in a column that ran on the Opinions page. To be clear, Scott doesn't need me to defend him here or anywhere. But this isn't the first time readers have questioned our professionalism based on an opinion piece that was labeled as such.

I wrote a piece on Trump earlier this year and received about as much backlash as Scott did last week. Commenters questioned my morals as a journalist, and one implied that I hate Christians. Around 50 percent of the responses were personal attacks, with one or two people suggesting that I stop writing completely. Interestingly, we didn't receive any emails or letters to the editor responding to the column. People were interested in attacking our newspaper for running the column, but they didn't want to submit a response addressing it.

I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt, even when they don't necessarily believe in returning the favor. That's why I'm writing this column, to encourage all of you who feel outraged by these columns to respond. I don't mean that you should respond by commenting on social media that Carroll County News is corrupt because its editors write opinion columns you don't agree with. That kind of response does nothing but inspire people to argue with one another, to be petty and cruel and inconsiderate.

I'm asking you to respond to the column, not the writer. Address the points you disagree with. Tell us why you think we're wrong. Send in a letter that describes all of Hillary Clinton's flaws, if that's how you feel. But don't attack us for writing how we feel on the Opinions page. This page is meant for opinions, and that's a fact.

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Samantha Jones is associate editor for Carroll County Newpapers. Her email address is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com