Earlier this week, I received a telephone call from someone in the community I’ve met enough times to know he was not kidding me.

“I heard that you are not taking letters or columns about the upcoming bond issue in May,” he said. “I certainly hope not.”

Pausing I listened as he was genuinely concerned about his local newspaper not allowing opposing sides to share their thoughts about a community concern. The loss of an opportunity to make a case for or against an important community issue truly troubled him.

“I am sorry, but that just does not ring true,” I said. “Why would we not want to publish different points of view?”

I offered to ask around the office and see if there could be anything that could be misconstrued as The Daily News not accepting opinions about the $62 million bond election Galveston has called for May 6. I could not think of any reason.

While there are time-honored rules about the timing of columns by candidates, so as not to allow for a stink bomb to be tossed at the last minute without time for others to respond, this was certainly not the case.

Minutes later, sharing what I’d heard with Michael A. Smith, editor of The Daily News, we both shook our heads.

“That is fake news,” he said.

Funny how a phrase we’d never heard of 12 months ago suddenly finds itself in a starring role. Fake news, as we properly defined it, is not about whether you agree or not — it is about whether the information is categorically false. And there is big difference between a difference of opinion and an outright falsehood.

A rumor claiming The Daily News was refusing to publish letters or columns on an matter of compelling public interest is “fake news.” Widespread distribution of differences of opinions from the public, like the caller said, is an important part of the process of making the best decision for the community. To not have a neutral place such as letters to the editor or guest columns would be to undermine the spirit of a free and open society.

As for the space reserved on the left-hand side of the opinion page? That space there is where readers will find the opinions of The Daily News’ editorial board. Can they be controversial? Yes. Can they be wrong? Yes. Can we change our minds over time? Of course — and we do.

We, after all, are humans making what we believe are the right recommendations at the time based on our understanding of the information available. And we also know once we take a position, we are rightly held to the scrutiny of our readers and community. And that is why you’ll see letters populating our pages afterward. That is how this is supposed to work. Open and free-flowing discussion of facts.

But when it comes to The Daily News not publishing letters or guest columns simply because we might disagree is purely false. Well, go ahead, call it what it is: fake news.

President & Publisher

(14) comments

Jarvis Buckley

I am certainly glad , to read this article.There is a glimmer of hope
after all. Most of us readers of the
Galveston Daily News, recognize ,
the liberal bias that your staff shares.
I have to say you are more fair than some. Such as The Austin Statesman, NYT, WSJ. I have recently
Canceled all 3. You are my lone holdout. Glad I don't have to make it
A clean sweep. I enjoy your paper.
Thanks for acknowledging that
fake news does exist. It was invented
By the liberals.

Doyle Beard

Jarvis I hope you are right but I got my doubts. He could have been trying to insinuate what a lay person may say to the same as the news media reporting fake news. Really no way what a lay person says is news unless the media has checked out the sources.
Putting gossip in the same category as news is insane. I really doubt the seroiusness of these 2 people.

Jim Forsythe

To say " It was invented By the liberals." is to forget the past.
An item published in The Lebanon Express, in 1893, describes state legislation introduced to combat “fake news.” (Library of Congress
Oh yeah, and the year is 1896.
The would-be president in question is William Jennings Bryan. In an era before the internet, television, or radio, the best way to reach the masses is with newsprint. So, with out It was invented
By the liberals. the option of tweeting his grievances after losing the election to William McKinley, what does Bryan do? He starts his own newspaper. And he uses it to rail against “fake news.”
Deceptions included the “miserable fake news,” that Bryan had won the election, according to a 1896 story in the Iola Register, of Kansas 
“The trouble is that the fake makers are green and wild,” the Indianapolis Journal explained in 1896, in response to made-up stories being pushed by Bryan supporters. “They assume that the people of this country are densely ignorant and will accept as truth any fake which they can devise.” (The Journal concluded it was “too late to undo the mischief which this absurd publication of fakes has inflicted.”)

George Croix

Jim, you forgot to mention that William Jennings Bryan was very much a Democrat, running on that ticket...what, twice?...three times?....for president.
Now, fast forward 120 years, and it certainly looks like the Indianapolis Journal was a voice for the future with it's assessment of the 'fake news' from the Bryan/Dem side as being put out there because "They assume that the people of this country are densely ignorant and will accept as truth any fake which they can devise."
It's deja vu all over again.....[smile][wink]

Doyle Beard

You cant be serious I hope.

George Croix

So rumor or, if you will, gossip, that 'someone heard' is categorized now as 'fake news'....

How very convenient ...

Kelly Naschke

Is this a joke? Leonard can't tell the difference between a "he said, she said" rumor over the coconut hotline versus blatantly one sided propaganda from the mainstream media? Comical!

Paula Flinn

Mr. Woolsey's point was to set the record straight on reporting opinions on the upcoming bond elections. He called the rumor that the GCDN would not publish various opinions "fake news." Perhaps he was joking, or writing "tongue in cheek." Anyway, I think that most of you need to "lighten up."

Thanks for continuing to publish AP Fact Check. There you can read about REAL "fake news."

Jack Cross

This left me scratching my head, when I checked the comments, I saw that others picked up on it. How is a rumor fake news. Fake news is when it is in print. Rumors have been around before Christ was on the earth. Fake news is a new definition applied to news print and the distrust the public has in the media.
Thanks Leonard for publishing the letters, but you bombed on your weekly column.

George Croix

If you normalize something, make it part of the routine, it's easier for it not to be noticed...for less attention if any to be paid to it....for it to be accepted as is.....

Looks like it already worked in one case.....[beam][beam][beam][beam][beam]

Jarvis Buckley

By the way Leanardo!! Nice hair.👍

PD Hyatt

Sounds like th eGDN has nothing to report as it must have been a slow news day, so they decided to throw out some malarky to see if anything would stick.... Gernerating fakes news from a rumor that they probably started!

George Croix


Doyle Beard

Fake news has struck again in the form of Leonard.

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