Encouraging Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalism can be traced back to colonial Massachusetts, where, in 1690, America’s first newspaper, Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, made a short-lived appearance. A four-page denunciation of British and French misdeeds, it was published by a Boston bookseller, printer and proprietor of a popular coffeehouse named Benjamin Harris. The British governor prohibited Harris from publishing a second edition. From gazetteer Benjamin Franklin to Holy Land travel chronicler Mark Twain to “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, nonprofessional journalists have continued to make estimable contributions to the writing of the “first draft” of American history.

With the rise of the internet and the universal availability of such tools as desktop publishing software, digital cameras and camcorders, many Americans quickly made the transition from being media consumers to becoming providers of news, information and commentary. Mainstream journalism now routinely makes use of photographs and videos submitted by members of the public, and the re-publication of average citizens’ responses first aired on Twitter to breaking news has become a journalistic staple.

The Sierra County Sun will also look to citizen journalism as a means of expanding our coverage. We invite Sierra Countians to help us report by submitting news tips, story ideas, guest columns and entries to our “Photograph of the Week” feature. 

We are also committed to training committed volunteers with the requisite research and writing skills to be beat reporters. Social media impose few restraints on what is published on their platforms. The Sun’s citizen journalists will be trained to adhere the highest professional standards, which requires reporting to be fact-based, credibly sourced, balanced and fair.

Editorial Standards

If ever the Sierra County Sun’s coverage falls short of the highest journalistic standards, we will issue a correction or apology. We have made it easy for our readers to point out departures from our guiding principles of accuracy, credibility, balance and fairness by providing a comment form at the bottom of news articles and features.

Another reason we provide for comments is to promote civic discourse that is civil and fact-based. The Sun especially welcomes comments that provide greater context or relevant additional information to supplement our reporting. 

We place no restrictions on subject matter except that comments must have local significance, not contain misinformation or level allegations without supporting evidence, constitute libel or be judged inappropriate. The Sun subscribes to the definition of inappropriateness set forth by the Washington Post to regulate comment, as follows:

Inappropriate content includes any content that:

  • is predatory, hateful, or intended to intimidate or harass, or contains derogatory name-calling
  • is a duplicate or repost of something [the author] has already posted on the site
  • contains advertising
  • contains a solicitation of any kind
  • misrepresents [the author’s] identity or affiliation
  • impersonates others
  • is in poor taste or is otherwise objectionable.”

The Sun will remove comments or portions of comments that we deem inappropriate for any reason without consent and notice. We also reserve the right to edit comments for brevity, clarity, spelling, punctuation, etc.

We further reserve the right to remove a reader’s privilege to post comments on our website. Readers are requested not to submit more than one comment per week. The Sun will not allow itself to become a personal soapbox, and readers who abuse their privileges by posting more frequently may also find themselves blocked from further comment.

All comments must be signed with the submitter’s first and last name. Anonymous or pseudonymous comments will not be published.

Editorial Independence and Financial Transparency

The Sierra County Sun subscribes to standards of editorial independence and financial transparency adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News, an association of not-for-profit civic news organizations, as follows:

The Sun retains full authority over editorial content to protect the best journalistic and business interests of our organization. We maintain a firewall between news coverage decisions and sources of all revenue. Acceptance of financial support does not constitute implied or actual endorsement of donors or their products, services or opinions.

“We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our activities, but our news judgments are made independently and not on the basis of donor support.

“The Sun may consider donations to support the coverage of particular topics, but our organization maintains editorial control of the coverage. We will cede no right of review or influence of editorial content, nor of unauthorized distribution of editorial content.

“The Sun will make public the names of all our donors. We will accept anonymous donations for general support only if it is clear that sufficient safeguards have been put into place to assure that the expenditure of that donation is made independently by our organization.”


“Riverwalk” Presentation/Input Session

Truth or Consequence's riverfront

Thursday, June 24, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
City Commission Chambers
405 W. Third Street, Truth or Consequences

This is the first opportunity for the public to be briefed and comment on on the “Riverwalk” Economic Feasibility Study, commissioned two summers ago from Wilson & Company, civil engineers, by the City of Truth or Consequences. Not to be confused with the community-led “Turtleback Trails” planning effort, which is focused exclusively on improving recreational access and amenities along the riverfront, the Riverwalk study aims to identify possible opportunities for commercial real estate development at Rotary Park, Ralph Edwards Park and a proposed “recreational hub” at the existing Highway 51 tube and paddle launch.

To prepare to provide thoughtful comment, you may view a first draft of a “concept map” of the three proposed development zones, obtained by the Sun via an Inspection of Public Records Act request, and learn more about both the Wilson & Company study and the Turtleback Trails project in the Sun’s indepth report on both planning efforts, “Healthier and Wealthier: The “Turtleback Trails” Vision of Green Riverfront Development.



Free T’ai Ch’i Chih classes in June

t'ai ch'i graphic

Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8 a.m. sharp
Park next to municipal pool, Truth or Consequences

T’ai Ch’i Chih is a gentle, meditative movement. Classes of 35 to 40 minutes will improve body balance and quiet the mind. Each session will cover the opening moves, plus six to eight moves of the method (for 20 to 21 moves in total).

Volunteer class leader Carol Borsello has Medical Qigong Level II certification and 25 years of natural healing studies, including massage. Although she is not certified to teach TCC, she is eager to share her healthy hobby with others.

“Come try it out,” Borsello says. “Reinforce good balance and raise your energy level a notch or two!”

Tondo Rotondo: The Circle Show

Nolan Winkler's painting "World Without End, Amen"

June 12–August 15
Rio Bravo Fine Art Gallery, 110 N. Broadway
Truth or Consequences

Tondo (plural “tondi” or “tondos”) is a Renaissance term for a circular work of art. This exhibition features artists represented by Rio Bravo Fine Art, in conjunction with other guest artists from New Mexico and Puerto Rico, all of whom have created a variety of imaginative art using the circle as their starting point. There are paintings on circular canvases, sculptures that take the circle into the three-dimensional realm and photographs with a circular perspective. Illustrated here is Nolan Winkler’s “World Without End, Amen,” diameter 20 inches, one of the paintings in the exhibit.

The exhibition’s opening reception will take place on June 12, during Second Saturday Art Hop, from 6 to 9 p.m. Regular viewing hours are Wednesday through Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m.




Foundation for Open Government determines T or C's fees to deliver requested electronic documents not allowed under state law

Truth or Consequences has recently begun to charge a fee of 25 cents per page to deliver electronic records requested under the Inspection of Public Records Act. FOG responded to a citizen request to determine the fee’s validity.

Reader Ron Fenn of Truth or Consequences commented: Thank you for informing on this important “right of the people” to know how our government is acting and spending our money.  Mr. Swingle needs to look at cutting costs (personnel) not penalizing residents to reduce the decades old budget deficits.

T or C still mum about problems with city’s water wells, despite only two of eight working properly

A legal ad in the Sierra County Sentinel’s May 21 edition was the first public notice and acknowledgment that two more wells in the city’s eight-well field are in trouble. Four others are offline, raising questions about the city’s water delivery capacity and the water department’s transparency about the health of the well field.

Reader William West of Truth or Consequences commented: If Wells 6 and 7 are leaking “liquid” or water with oil and metal filings, it seems possible, if not likely, we are drinking the same. If a property with a well is sold, the condition of the well water is part of the seller’s disclosure to the buyer. If T or C water is suspect, either because recent consumer confidence reports were not made public or there are capacity or quality problems with the water the city provides, should these concerns be a part of all property disclosures for sales in the city going forward?

It seems to me that fixing basic needs such as clean water, reliable electrical supply, effective stormwater handling and a transparent and aware city council should come before any consideration of “putting lipstick on a pig”-type projects such as the “Riverwalk.”


Wildlife trail or commercial development for Rotary Park?

Please, let us come together to prevent one more desecration. Please let us create, instead, a preserve for wildlife with access for people to the Rio Grande that will stand into the future to preserve the precious, irreplaceable quality of life that we are able to enjoy here.

Reader Patty Kearney of Truth or Consequences commented: Residing in the neighborhood between downtown and Rotary Park, I would not like to see commercial development at Rotary Park. There would be traffic in our residential streets. And the run-off from pavement and/or construction into the river seems environmentally unsound. I have no idea what sort of commercial development is proposed, but I can’t imagine it getting past an environmental impact study—which there ought to be, of course, for anything that goes in that location. I agree with Dr. Spruce. Wetlands restoration and a hiking trail. Investment in projects that make this town more its true self, not something it isn’t, will help us thrive

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