In mid-August, the Gauntlet released a poll to determine what our readers would like to see in our election coverage, asking respondents to select the issues of importance to them, from climate change to immigration, from national defence to freedom of speech. There was also a place to fill in comments. It was in reading these comments that I was both saddened and angered — and not for the reasons you might think.
The vast majority of responses implored us to cover all sides, present the issues from a variety of different viewpoints, offer factual information and to let readers come to their own conclusions. The fact that our readers felt the need to ask — nay, virtually beg — for this is what disheartened me. This should be a given. Objective, factual news is the minimum acceptable standard from the media and the cornerstone of democracy.
My promise to you, as Editor-in-Chief, is to provide you with factual, balanced coverage. Yes, we will publish opinion pieces, and plenty of them. However, those opinion pieces will be solicited from the widest cross-section of contributors possible and will present a multitude of perspectives. In return, I would beg the following of you — please, register as one of our volunteers and have your voice heard — contribute your ideas, write articles, engage in the discourse. Seek out alternate opinions, ones that differ from your own. Engage in respectful debate with each other — don’t engage in the toxic culture of “cancelling” your friends and family because they hold different viewpoints.
The echo chamber of social media grows more troubling by the day — algorithms that filter content to affirm your existing beliefs without ever seeking to challenge them, censorship, de-platforming, name-calling, rhetoric, doxxing. These things run rampant and when we engage in them, we only contribute to anger and division, not the debate that fosters cooperation and change. Reasoned political discourse and the ability to engage in it freely is the bedrock of a free society.
Call me idealistic, but I believe that civil discourse is still possible, that rationale can prevail over rhetoric and that we can have fact-based discussions about controversial issues without resorting to name-calling and other childish behaviour.
Your survey answers have proven to me that the world is full of reasonable people, hungry for their media to present them with facts and allow them to make up their own minds.
Think for yourself. Read the facts. You have a responsibility to seek the truth and to question the media when they don’t provide it. You will not like everything you read. You’ll be uncomfortable with some of it. And that is a good thing. As consumers of news, you must demand that your media present multiple opinions. Democracy depends on it.
—Kristy Koehler, Gauntlet Editor-in-Chief