What Wrangler News can and can’t do to verify our readers’ opinions

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Wrangler News editor Joyce Coronel
Wrangler News editor Joyce Coronel

Here at Wrangler News, we’re constantly on the lookout for stories that reflect the communities of Tempe and West Chandler.

Comments on our website in recent weeks have lauded our coverage of intensely local concerns, such as the proliferation of short-term rentals, controversies over smoke shops and artificial turf, planned changes to Estrada Park, the need for a new fire station and a recent forum for Tempe City Council candidates.

We regularly receive requests to publish commentaries from those who live and work in our area, and we welcome those submissions. We’d like to think that all of us who live, work and thrive here in our corner of the world can have a say regarding issues that matter.

When candidates for Tempe City Council faced off at a forum held at Arizona Community Church (see the front-page story in our Jan. 27 edition), one of the biggest concerns voiced by members of a standing-room-only audience had to do with a spike in water rates.

Some of those with questions had read our Jan. 13 issue that featured a commentary by Mary Lou Taylor, a longtime Tempe resident who once served on the Tempe Union High School board. In her commentary, Taylor decried what she said was a tripling in water bills for some Tempe residents who own larger properties.

She also raised questions about the quality of Tempe’s water and an incident in which she alleges Tempe’s fire officials had to tap into three hydrants before connecting with a water supply to fight a fire.

A South Tempe resident later complained that we had not fact-checked Taylor’s commentary prior to publishing it. This resident was offered an opportunity to submit a rebuttal to the Taylor commentary but elected not to do so.

We can only hope that others who may have disagreed with Taylor’s piece, or with anything else labeled “commentary,” whether by an outside contributor or us, would step up and submit their written viewpoint for publication, in agreement or not.

This, we feel, is a reasonable policy for the times when something that appears in our pages contains details that readers may disagree with.

It is, in fact, the way most small publications work. Additionally, because of the reality that there are only two of us who put Wrangler News together every other week, fact-verifying every contributed opinion piece simply wouldn’t be feasible.

To do so would effectively preclude us, we feel, from offering a forum for community viewpoints, which is exactly the opposite of the role we see ourselves playing in this community.

Finally, we’d like to be clear that opinion pieces published in our pages are, by their very nature, a reflection of the writer’s opinion, not necessarily ours.

With all of that said, if you’d like to contribute a commentary—or respond to an existing one—please feel free to contact us at editor@wranglernews.com.

We ask that you keep submissions to 500 words or less. We reserve the right to edit submissions for clarity, length and suitability, and of course to question content that even the least informed among all of us would recognize as contrary to commonly held knowledge.

We look forward to hearing from you about the issues that matter to you, our friends, neighbors and loyal followers during the 30 years we’ve been here to serve you.

Please also note that a response to Taylor’s Jan. 13 commentary from Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell and Councilmember Randy Keating appears on our website. As with Taylor’s submission, it was not fact-checked prior to publication.

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