Opening up our mailbag ... er, email account
When we marked our one-year anniversary on Sept. 5, 2011, we asked readers for their thoughts on our first year. It was an open invitation -- repeated on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere -- to weigh in on our work.
Apparently, our critics took an extended Labor Day break.
Most of the emails were similar to this one from Greg Hunolt of Plymouth:
"Thank you for the super job you and your folks have done on the PolitiFact columns. I only wish they were carried in newspapers across the state. I have come to have great respect for your objectivity and thoroughness, and I appreciate how you carefully document your findings. You’ve shown me both how sometimes someone who I tend to agree with will be wrong about something, as well as how somebody I don’t agree with may be right about something. In short, I learn from what you do!"
Our PolitiFact Wisconsin items are picked up by the Janesville Gazette, through an agreement with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. We hope other papers will do the same.
Meanwhile, Gregory Gapinski from Genesee had this to say:
"Thank you for providing a valuable investigative column in the MJS. I am neither a Republican or Democrat and appreciate you doing your best keeping all our elected officials honest in what they say."
Hmmm. Apparently all the Gregs out there didn’t get the week off.
A few more samples:
Joan Mutschelknaus: "Thank you for adding PolitiFact Wisconsin! I look forward to the column every day. (Sometimes I don't have time to read all your research, but I regularly check the issue and the rating, at the very least.) PolitiFact reinforces the fact that words do matter, and it is important for all of us to communicate accurately and clearly. "
Marc Gorenc: "I am one of the individuals that truly believe in the liberal slant of reporters, particularly at the JS. I was wondering if you could give me a break down of how PolitiFact rated conservatives/republicans vs liberals/democrats, or who got more "False" and "Pants on Fire" ratings? "
In the column earlier this week, we noted the breakdown for all items -- and how the top officials at the state, county and city level fared. But we didn’t include a breakdown this way for a reason.
We don’t keep track.
As I wrote Marc in reply, we set out to pick important and interesting items. Once we do, we play no favorites and pull no punches. Beyond that, we don’t pre-judge items or set out to somehow even out the ratings. That’s a recipe for problems.
On Twitter, @frizztastic wrote: "I really hope no one out there trusts @PolitifactWisc because you shouldn’t."
We have no idea what piece he’s referring to, what his partisan allegiance is or what his gripe with us is. He didn’t say. Those 140 characters can be awfully limiting.
So keep those comments coming (firstname.lastname@example.org). We’ll try to do more mailbag roundups this year. And we’ll try to do more online chats, such as the one from earlier this week.