Opinion | Both sides have a right to be heard

On pages 11 and 13 of today’s Advertiser we are running advertisements on the same-sex marriage debate – one for the Yes campaign, and one for the No.

Normally we wouldn’t bother pointing this out, certainly not in an editorial, but in this case we felt we needed to.

The reason is that the last time we carried a paid advertisement like this – it was for the No campaign on page 15, September 20 – it triggered a significant backlash from Yes supporters.

Our newspaper was trolled on social media, we were attacked on Facebook, and members of our office staff were personally targeted. 

It was a paid advertisement – just as newspapers and television stations all around the world carry on a daily basis.

The Advertiser accepts that this is a highly emotive issue for many people – but nonetheless we were surprised by the social media response.

There are good people on both sides of the same-sex marriage divide with widely differing views and we invite our readers to have a civil debate, but please accept that both sides have a legal right to be heard.

Many on social media saw that by carrying the ad The Advertiser was somehow endorsing the No campaign.

This was not the case.

So let us be clear.

The issue of same-sex marriage is an issue our parliamentarians wanted the community to consider – at a not insignificant cost of $122 million. 

The Advertiser has served Cessnock loyally for many years and see it as our role to give both sides a platform. We continue to see that as our role during this debate.

Provided the content for advertisement is legal and not offensive (as opposed to something you may disagree with), then it would be discriminatory of the paper not to accept the ad.

 And surely discrimination is at the heart of this issue.

Both sides have a legal right to be heard. 

We would point out that adverts have nothing to do with editorial content – which the journalists write, and we hope you will respect that when making comment on our social media platforms. 

Hopefully, the fact that today there are paid advertisements for both campaigns will mean calmer responses this time around. 

Let us hope so anyway.

Rick Allen, Lower Hunter Editor