Letter sparks protests

By Jeff Mayo
A letter to the editor from Howard “Buck” Sheward published in Wednesday’s Free-Lance created a lot of phone calls and social media posts concerning the Free-Lance and its role as a newspaper in Henryetta.
By publishing the letter, the Free-Lance is not endorsing what Sheward said. Just like we do not always agree with any letter writer or columnist or even statements made in news stories.
Now, if there are statements in question, the Free-Lance is interested in correcting those facts. Anyone reading this newspaper or attending public meetings knows there is a long-standing disagreement between Sheward and the city on just about everything the city does. When these disagreements happen, it is the newspaper’s job to accurately report both sides.
We are not backing or advocating for Sheward. We have experienced personal attacks from Sheward ourselves.
The letters to the editor are published for someone to express their opinion about an issue. Letters are reserved for items concerning the public, so for example, we do not run letters about private business disputes.
You do not have to be a subscriber or a resident of the City of Henryetta for us to publish your letter to the editor. But, we will use our judgment concerning letters coming from outside of Okmulgee County, especially when they are not related to a local issue.
We have been accused of running statements in Buck’s letter that are untrue. We have reached out to city officials and are waiting to hear back to correct these statements.
A good newspaper, in trying to give voice to many sides, is in a no-win situation in cases like these. Plus, this disagreement lasting so many years, it is deeply personal. We understand that.
We will continue to do our best to cover this issue for the readers of Henryetta.
For those we have let down by muddling the conversation about these issues, we apologize. But please understand our job is not to just print what we think is right; we are a voice for the many voices of our community.
We are ready to listen. Are you ready to be heard? If so, send us your thoughts.
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