Friday Feedback for November 18, 2016

Nov 18, 2016

Thank you for offering a variety of viewpoints and ideas in your programming. -- Katie Jones

Listener Patti enjoyed reading about all the awards WHQR received last week from the Associated Press and from the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas: “Congratulations for the awards and thanks to the news team for all their good work. It's great to see others recognize just how good you all are!” Thank you, Patti.
Commentator Peggy Porter’s remarks this week on bad behavior from people in the aftermath of last week’s election drew several reactions. For instance, listener Verena wrote:

[This week's [commentary] was very dismissive to those of us who are deeply hurt by the outcome of the presidential election.] You always stress that these stories are not news and do not represent the views of the station, yet this opinion was presented alongside the news and without the benefit of counterpoint that an interview or discussion would provide. I love and support WHQR, but the airing of this commentary was disappointing.

Listener Katie Jones wrote:

To my mind, Porter’s commentary creates some false equivalencies—or at least some unfair comparisons. . . she picks out only the silly and, in some cases, dangerous examples of political dissent. Even though the majority of protestors are peaceful people who aren’t putting anyone—least of all the police—in danger, she chooses to provide anomalies instead of norms as examples to “prove” her point.

[Like Porter, I find it abhorrent a mother would make her child believe he was no longer welcome at home because he voted for Trump in a mock election. . . There’s no excuse for those kinds of activities. But there’s also no excuse for the many fundamentalist parents who actually do kick their LGBT children out of their homes. . .]There’s no excuse for the post-election increase in hate crimes against immigrants, minorities, women, Muslims, Jews, and others facing persecution. . .
Of course political protests aren’t “enough.” It’s important to call one’s representatives, to stick up for people who are struggling, to run for office, to organize for change, to confront injustice every single day, to recognize one’s privilege, to listen to the people who are too often interrupted, to vote with your ballot and your wallet and your words and deeds. But protests are valuable, too: [they signal dissatisfaction and foster community. They provide an important message to the world. . .]
WHQR, thank you for offering a variety of viewpoints and ideas in your programming, and thank you for providing a forum for others to respond.”

I’ve quoted these letters at some length, and we heard similar concerns from listener Hank, and an anonymous caller. There are a couple of issues here I would distinguish:

  • WHQR has not taken and will not take sides in any political race. We are proud to be neutral parties, questioning both sides.
  • Commentaries are meant to be opinion pieces, and we always have a disclaimer and an offer of time for a rebuttal. It would be fine for someone to take us up in this case. But. . .
  • This commentary has caused us to take a fresh look at our guidelines. Personal reflections are just fine, and Peggy has done that. And with rare exceptions we don't edit them for content. However, when it comes to political and public policy views, those are matters that overlap our news editing process, especially when it invokes an incident such as the Melania Trump sign referenced by Peggy. For this reason we're asking all our commentators to continue emphasizing their personal stories.

In reference to the discussion last week about A Prairie Home Companion, listener Jonathan wrote:

I am crushed that you are not continuing to carry A Prairie Home Companion live on Sat eves. I will take that into consideration next pledge drive. Also, please stop broadcasting repeats of Coastline on the weekends, seems very out of place. Thank you.

Last week I had some fun with a comment from listeners Paul and Paula. Afterwards, Paula wrote back:

Sharing your Friday Feedback with friends from across the country has been a hoot. A Cincinnati friend commented, “Wow, you have a great public radio station.” Coming from that neck of the woods, that is high praise indeed. Many thanks for a fun interlude in what for us was a grim week.

And as a former resident of Cincinnati, I can attest that they do indeed have fine public radio there.

Note: the version of this Feedback on the web is slightly longer than the version that aired on HQR News on November 18th, 2016. The radio version contained some edits for length in the reaction to Peggy Porter's commentary.

Also: an earlier version referred to the Melania Trump sign incident as a hoax. I believe that there are possible issues with respect to this, but the evidence is not conclusive that it is a hoax or a plant by Trump supporters. -- Cleve

We’d love to hear from you on Friday Feedback. You can send an email message to feedback-at-whqr-dot-org, or you can leave a call at 910-292-9477. And as always, thanks for your Feedback.