Everybody has an opinion on everything, so the Street Talk feature on this page is right up their alley. Most of the time.
The Dispatch asks passersby on street corners and elsewhere their opinion on various topics and then publishes their responses and pictures. On one of the forays recently, people were quizzed about how well they think school districts are doing in making school buildings secure, and whether the proposed and long-dormant Mount Rainier mega-resort between Elbe and Ashford should eventually be built. The opinions, as always, were interesting and on-point. Too on-point, it turned out, for a couple folks. They called me that night and self-censored themselves, asking not to be included for either personal reasons or because they suspected their views might be held against them or others they care about.
We honored their request, of course. Street Talk is strictly voluntary. Talk or don’t talk, it’s fine either way. Our goal with the feature is to help humanize topics of the day and broaden discussions by directly involving the very people whose communities have a stake. And we appreciate how the folks we stop and talk to are unfailingly polite and willing to share a few minutes of their time. It can’t always be easy to have your daily routine or errands interrupted by our inquiring minds.
Street Talk usually is tied to our weekly poll question, which our readers can answer anonymously in our online edition at dispatchnews.com. The results of a previous week’s poll are published each week in our print editions.
Some polls that have gotten the heaviest response have dealt with the state’s legalized marijuana industry and the Pierce County Council’s effort to block it. Other subjects that have gotten some of the most attention involved the merits of all-day kindergarten, South Pierce Fire and Rescue’s bond measure in the last election, reaction to the federal government’s shutdown of Mount Rainier National Park and other services, attitudes about the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays, and politicians’ use of Facebook.
Our polls and Street Talk are two of the ways we let you be heard. Here are two more: After reading a news story or opinion piece in our online edition, you can post your thoughts in the easy-to-use comments option. Readers typically use it to offer a contrary view, give a thumbs-up or just get something off their chest. And there’s Forum, the Opinion page feature for letters we receive by e-mail or postal mail and publish in our print editions. The letters also appear online in the Opinion section.
There are virtually no limitations on the length or subject of letters, as long as they’re in good taste. We occasionally must decline a letter because of objectionable language or – and this is very rare – it crosses from the realm of thoughtful opinion into a rant that does nothing more than spew hate or intolerance.
We apply the same standard to online comments at dispatchnews.com. If it adds to the discussion without being profane or distasteful, it’s all good.
Dispatch editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 360-832-4697.