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Guest Post: Bi-Partisan, Or Partisan In Nature, by Brian Shedlarski



By now I hope the readers on this blog have read Mrs. Gilles’ statement from the September 19, 2022 select board meeting. If you didn’t read it here, maybe you were in the meetinghouse that night. Or maybe you tuned in on cable TV? You could have streamed the meeting on your computer? Hopefully some did but I am sure many did not. There is so much going on in everyone's lives and a local select board meeting is not sought after prime time viewing. If you are not sure what Mrs. Gilles' statement was about, maybe there is a local news site that covered it? Unfortunately, I can’t find one.

Before I go further, let's address what happened in the public comment period. It was pointed out by Mrs. Gilles that a select board member was using their select board member Facebook page to publicly call out a sitting committee member they disagreed with on topics currently being discussed. The content was not what was taken issue with, the platform used was. After public comment ended the select board member apologized publicly.


I am not writing this letter to delve into that issue. I want to talk about our local “bipartisan” news site the NGXchange and their lack of reporting on it. First, some people have asked me why I would even think they were bipartisan? My answer is, because they said so. Here is an email provided to me by Mrs. Gilles that was sent by Debra Smith to Mrs. Gilles and others-

 

Hello Ladies,

I've been troubled by the buzz about NGX as a partisan group and want to clear up a couple of things.

I have heard that NGX censors, or will not publish opinion pieces from some members of the community. (Linda, thank you for your recent submission.)

We are editors, not censors. We work with authors to ensure that their submissions are clear and readable, and that they meet NGX standards, which apply to all content we publish. These standards have not changed since we established NGX 10 years ago.

NGX's mission is to serve the community through sharing information "by, for and about" New Gloucester. We strive to be inclusive, but we are all volunteers and we rely on our contributors for content. Some people more actively seek to share their perspectives than others. This seems to have created the impression among some that we are a partisan group.

As a community, and as a country, many have lost the ability to agree to disagree, to engage in civil discourse, and to set aside personal views in order to serve a larger purpose.

Best,

Debra

 

So maybe no one asked them to publish it? That was my initial thought when I called Mrs. Gilles to ask her if I could send the letter she read at the select board meeting to the NGXchange? She informed me she had sent it to them and they refused to print it. Mrs. Gilles said she had a lengthy conversation with editor Joanne Cole but had failed to convince her to publish the letter. I followed up with an email of my own to Editor Cole asking two questions. Why wasn’t it reported on? Why wasn’t Mrs. Gilles letter printed? Regarding the reporting on the public comments I was told that "I can't remember the last time I included them in a recap, but it feels like it's been a while. Just trying to cover the board's bigger action items and their context leaves my write-ups really, really long - obviously. As it is, I appreciate anyone who hangs in reading all the way to the end."

Regarding Mrs. Gilles letter not being published, “She (Mrs. Gilles) ended by saying that she'd already accomplished what she'd hoped for with the letter anyway, and I ended by saying I'd welcome a broader conversation sometime about NGX. Those seem like good spots to have wrapped up on, so if you'd like details, I'd encourage you to talk with Karen.” Mrs. Gilles did in fact tell me she said those words out of frustration at the end of a very long and fruitless conversation.


In my opinion this letter AND the apology should have been a story. The content that was shared on social media is available AND there is an apology. Why would someone apologize if they didn’t do it? In my opinion this was glossed over because of the political views involved.


In another example, the NGXchange published a press release announcing Dustin Ward’s run for selectmen.

I was running for the same seat and I contacted the NGXchange via messenger to announce my campaign. A screenshot of the response can be found at the end of this article. The response was as follows, “Hi Brian, Thanks for this! We’ll be inviting you and other candidates to complete a dan I date (sic) profile, with much of the same information you’ve included in your announcement. Let me check with my co-editors about running campaign announcements in addition. Can you send me your email address? Thanks., Debra Smith.”


Mr. Ward’s Press Release is his campaign announcement and dated April 13, 2021. My request was April 28, 2021. Needless to say, mine was never printed. Again, giving their candidate preferential treatment.

In closing I want to remind everyone to be mindful of this local blog. They are very good at picking and choosing what they publish to fit their narrative. That is their prerogative. But DO NOT think you are getting a bi-partisan account. It bothers me that there are people in town that believe the NGXchange is run by the town and that it is the go to media outlet for town affairs. There are other examples of partisan reporting but I will let those people share their stories, and I do encourage them to share. Personally I have unfollowed the Facebook page of the NGXchange and will look to other sources for local information.


Sincerely,

Brian Shedlarski




 

*This is a guest post by Brian Shedlarski. The views expressed are those of Brian Shedlarski, and not endorsed by the New Gloucester GOP. The New Gloucester GOP supports the right of individuals to submit guest blog posts freely, and without censorship. If you are interested in sharing an article, or post please send all submissions to newgloucestergop@gmail.com

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