Sounding off

Published 4:46 pm Friday, March 23, 2012

When the Washington Daily News posts new information on its website, each piece falls necessarily into a specific category: news, editorial, obituaries, and so on.

One of the options is opinion, and to this opinion category all Sound Off call transcriptions are assigned.

That’s not to say that all Sound Off calls are opinion. Sometimes they deal strictly in facts. For example, a recent caller answered another caller’s question regarding a species of bird not regularly seen in the area. It’s the tine siskin, Sound Off readers learned thanks to the second caller. And if Sound Off readers didn’t already know the name of the bugs swarming by the thousands around the lights at night, they do now. They are midges, more commonly known as fuzzy bills, also explained by a second caller. These are just two examples of factual information relayed through the WDN’s opinion-based feature.

However, most Sound Off calls aren’t strictly informational. They are the opinion of average citizens who want their voice on certain topics (especially hot button issues) to be heard by the community.

Are they factual? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Lately, several Sound Off callers have addressed the topic of the remains being moved from a local church’s graveyard, to be reintered at Oakdale Cemetery. The graves will be moved to Oakdale.

The callers seem upset that graves are being removed to make room for a parking lot.

But, wait: the church is expanding their building, not the parking lot — this is fact. The church is hemmed in by streets on three sides and has no other option than to remove graves in order to expand its building — this is fact. Churches, like businesses, must grow or run the risk of becoming obsolete — this, however, is opinion.

So where did the misinformation about why graves are being moved come from?

Unfortunately, it came from Sound Off.

It’s your calls that populate the Sound Off column in the paper and we appreciate your input. But it’s also your call to find out whether an opinion is informed. Or not.