A review of local news websites show that only two allow anonymous posts: the Standard-Freeholder and the Cornwall Free News. Both sites have some moderation of comments, but a review of activity over the past several months have led staff to concur with the generalized assessment of the practice by the American Journalism Review: “Comment sections are often packed with profanity, and vicious personal attacks.”
CFN – That dear viewers of CFN is what the City of Cornwall issued as a report and was endorsed by City Council and the Mayor.
Normally CFN is advocating for citizens or causes. Today we’re advocating to fight a lie against us written in a city report that they have refused to allow us to rebut. We’re asking our viewers to support us back by signing our online petition below.
Can you imagine as a local company reading something purposely presented to the public that was clearly a bold lie?
Anyone of the over 53,000 Unique visitors per month that visit CFN can tell you about the quality of our content, especially our viewer comments.
In today’s world CBC has f bombs on its radio show.
But that is exactly what the city of Cornwall has done to CFN as they used this policy to institute a boycott that is not only from the City; but has extended to agencies connected to the city; some of which depend on the city for monies such as our Library, Hospital, Museum, Art Gallery, and Tourism agency all of which refuse to advertise on the largest media outlet in their city. In fact many of these agencies refuse to even have sit down meetings.
We have now asked the city to allow CFN to appear before council to challenge their statement above seven times. The CFIB asked the mayor and city twice; all times we have been refused to repudiate the statement by the city in the same spot that they smeared us.
CFN has always had fully pre-moderated comments. We have always had a process where people can post their complaint if so or ask for moderation.
Oddly enough the City of Cornwall not a single time wrote in asking for any correction or removal of a comment and that’s with over 35,000 comments on CFN in four years.
Nor has CFN ever had to print a retraction.
Irony? The quote used has to date not been found in the American Journalism Review.
wrote released the following about his policy;
I’d like to take this opportunity to clarify City Council’s recent decision regarding the establishment of an advertising policy.
There have been some misguided suggestions that this is an attempt to censor public discussion. This is simply not the case. The City of Cornwall enjoys a positive working relationship with the media, and it is one that we value and respect. Members of City Council and City Administration always make themselves available to the media and the public.
The City is also open and receptive to feedback and constructive criticism from members of the public. We welcome public input because it helps us to better understand residents’ concerns and priorities surrounding municipal matters.
The motion debated and passed by Council dealt solely with advertising and was strictly about the City of Cornwall’s right to choose where to advertise. City staff believe that advertising on web sites or publications with offensive content undermines the positive values of the City of Cornwall brand. This includes websites or publications outside of Cornwall. These guidelines have always been followed as an ‘unwritten rule’ – the Council report simply examined the issue in an open and transparent manner.
The City has not asked the media to do anything. In fact, local journalists already follow their own professional guidelines regarding what is acceptable commentary, and local media organizations already enact varying policies to remove what is perceived to be offensive commentary. The City of Cornwall’s advertising guidelines simply mirror the same generally accepted guidelines in place in most media organizations.
Mayor Bob Kilger
Here is the chart that the City released for 2011. In spite of being low man on the totem poll of major media we sent the city the most web traffic for 2011 of any listed below. We also sent them the most in 2012 from old archived ads even though we’re being boycotted! The city has refused to issue a similar chart for 2012 in spite of repeated requests.
So we’ve decided to ask you, our amazing viewers to come to our aid and sign our online petition asking the city to grant CFN the same amount of time to rebut the slur made against CFN and our community.
The Freeholder responded to this policy by limiting comments on their site (they only moderate post comment as they have key word filters for pre comments) and in fact in many stories simply do not allow any public comments.
We need more accountability and transparency in this world; especially by our paid elected officials and staff.
The City of Cornwall can choose to advertise where it wishes; but they do not have the right to slur any business nor to impact other businesses choice of where to advertise; nor allegedly threaten businesses that do.
The nature of the Mayor and City’s actions have hampered CFN’s growth and potentially its survival. It hurts economic and cultural development of our community. But mostly it reinforces the message that Cornwall Ontario is not a good place to start a small business and that’s not what this City is about.
Local businesses should not be afraid to advertise on the largest media outlet in the city for fear of financial retaliation by City Officials elected or not.
Jamie Gilcig – Editor – The Cornwall Free News
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