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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Why Upstate Common Voice?
Jonathan Pait
January 23, 2002

If you are a South Carolina Web junkie and you happened to do your normal surfing around the Web today, you probably came across an article on a site that had a few things to say about Upstate Common Voice. The purpose of this editorial is not to retort or even focus on the article. However, this does give an opportunity to better explain exactly what Upstate Common Voice is-and what it isn’t.

A little history is in order. Common Voice began shortly after Bob Inglis was elected to the House (when was that, 1996?). It began as an “audio magazine.” The idea was to convince all the political leaders in the Upstate to record a message to their constituents. This message would be Webcast to those who would like to listen and then the constituents could discuss what they heard. There was even a cool mechanism that would allow users to upload their own audio bytes.

Alas, the Internet was young, bandwidth was small and politicians just didn’t want to talk. Common Voice disappeared. In April of 2001 the site was resurrected. It was created to be what it purports to be, an e-zine with “commentary and discussion by and for the people of the Upstate.” The fact that it has evolved into a political Web site is probably due more to the fact that we are fast approaching an election year. However, it was never intended to be politics only site.

The dream behind Common Voice was and is that it would become a place where people come together to discuss issues that involve our common community. Whether it is politics or discussions on how to clean up a portion of the city or how to mobilize more volunteers for community service—any discussion is up for grabs.

What Common Voice is not; Common Voice is not a bulletin board where just anyone can hop on and say whatever they would like about any issue or any person. The site belongs to the editor and posters are his invited guests. Guests who do not behave are not allowed to continue participating. It is not a gossip site. It is not an investigative reporting site. It is what its name implies. It is a place for anyone to express his or her views.

Does Common Voice have a decidedly conservative slant? Sure. The editor is decidedly conservative. However, anyone who has had opposing views and has had contact with the editor will tell you that he does not censor any content for ideas. He will censor language or unnecessary personal attacks—but not ideas. So, why do you only hear from conservatives on the site? Because only conservatives participate!

A single individual maintains the site. Lots of people probably know who he is, but HE isn’t the point. The SITE is the point. YOU are the point and your participation is really what will make this site a success or failure. Some have been given the opportunity to become contributing writers. You see their names on the bylines. Ralph Bristol, Jimmy Moore, Ben Graydon, Phil Shoopman and others add much to the site. More will follow, such as Bob Inglis. These writers have direct access to post articles. When they submit their articles they appear immediately.

The same thing happens when the writer of Capitol Watch posts an article. Recently the writer placed an article on the site that appeared in The State. The point could be made that this was a copyright infringement. Once the editor was made aware of this, he contacted Capitol Watch and pointed this out. Capitol Watch acted to remove the offending article. If you look through the site, you will find that we have taken great pains to have original content and give credit where credit is due.

Finally, the press releases. Do you know how many press releases come into a paper and never are published? Well, we do—and it is a lot! So, the press release section was added to the site to allow anyone who would like to inform the community to submit the release to the site. The release is then noted as a release by a red square with the release type printed in the middle. We do not claim this is original content. At the same time, we want to allow full access to the system. If people don't want their releases to appear in the format we have, then they should not submit them.

A final question you might ask. Is Upstate Common Voice biased toward any political candidate? The answer is “Yes.” We’ll back a conservative every time. However, when it comes down to endorsing any one single conservative. . . Sorry. This site exists to give them all a voice. Even Reb, God bless her soul. If it looks like we are biased it could be that those candidates are making the most of the system.

Finally, the site exists for the editor to have a little fun with you, the Upstate community. He has no visions of grandeur of being a great journalist. He doesn’t take himself or the site too seriously. If people read it (and they do). . . If people participate (and they do—though never enough!), then that is enough.

Hey! Love you guys! I have gotten to know some wonderful people through this enjoyable hobby.

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