Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

KHNS cuts length, availability of commentaries


July 13, 2017

KHNS is tightening listener commentary availability and online comment policies.

The public radio station published a new policy on listener commentaries this week, reducing length of commentaries from three minutes to two.

The station also will limit individuals to one commentary every three months instead of one every two months.

Under the changes, KHNS management “reserves the right to deny listener commentaries for any reason, including but not limited to: not meeting the burden of civil discourse, or an issue that has received extensive news coverage or multiple commentaries.”

The new and old policies both prohibit “calls to action,” as they violate an FCC rule. Libel and personal attacks are also prohibited. The station does not allow political commentaries during election season because FCC regulations are unclear.

General manager Kay Clements declined to comment on a reason for the changes this week.

Board president Russ Lyman said listener commentaries take staff time and resources to produce. A commenter may need multiple takes to record their submission, and the takes might need editing.

“It does take time and energy to deal with them and we’re already overworked and understaffed trying to provide all the other public services we do,” Lyman said. “There’s a lot of stations that don’t do it at all anymore.”

Lyman said he doubts there would be an upsurge in interest for listener commentaries if the station made the policy less restrictive.

“Commentaries have been few and far between all the years I’ve been in town,” Lyman said.

The new policy allows commentaries by candidates for public office and by citizens supporting or opposing candidates.

KHNS also introduced a new online comment policy, precipitated by board request. After years of being able to submit comments on online news stories anonymously, or under an alias, commenters must now provide their real first and last name by signing into their Facebook or Google Plus account before posting.

“We don’t want anonymity. People should stand by their statements,” Clements said.

Not everyone is happy with the changes.

Haines Borough Assembly member Tom Morphet, who was denied a listener commentary in April on the basis that his subject – complaints about police – had already been adequately covered by news stories, said the new guidelines are a step in the wrong direction for a public station.

“I think the station should be doing all it can to increase local content – including commentary – to better serve the community. I don’t see how this decision serves the public or the listening audience,” Morphet said.


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