An open letter to the media, regarding the Sam Adams sex scandal

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We the undersigned are citizens of Portland, Oregon.

We are paid subscribers to your newspapers, we are customers of your advertisers, we are business owners, tech workers, baristas. We write blogs, converse on Twitter and Facebook, and write an online encyclopedia that documents Portland's history and culture. We hike, we bike, we knit, we recycle e-waste, we feed the homeless.

And we are united in our belief that you are poisoning our civic discourse in your rush to judgment of Mayor Sam Adams. The editorial boards of the Oregonian, the Columbian, Just Out, and the Tribune have called for Adams to resign in light of recent revelations. These calls have come without pause for deliberation or feedback from the public. In stark contrast, you did not make similar calls when, in 1997, President Clinton committed an act that was more egregious by many measures: it was with a subordinate, while married, on property owned by the public, and compounded by lies under oath.

Our unity has limits. As we explore this complex issue, we do not share a common view of how we should proceed as a city, or what actions Mayor Adams should or should not take. But on our blogs, on our barstools, and on our park benches, we are sorting that out. Those who feel stridently that the Mayor should stay in office occasionally find truth in the words of his detractors, and vice versa. This process began mere days ago, and is only now beginning to mature.

In this process, we value the fruits of your research. You have a critical role in the evolution of our city: you have the expertise and the resources to seek out the facts where you hear credible allegations of crimes and misconduct.

But we marvel at your apparent belief that your moral compass is needed to guide our relationship with our mayor. We are not (by and large) children, and we possess our own powers of judgment and discernment.

Do you regret your lack of diligence on the Packwood and Goldschmidt stories? If so, we hope you strive to do better. But we implore you, do not confuse diligent reporting with a rush to judgment. You will not regain our trust and respect by preaching to us.

We are not unknown to you. We are your readers. We are also friends on Twitter; you link to our blogs; you seek us out for comments at events. Just as we benefit from your reporting and analysis, you benefit and profit from our work; we act as partners in many ways in covering Portland news. The next time a scandal shakes our city, we hope that you will remember we are here; and we hope you will not rush to express a judgment before you can possibly know whether it reflects our views.

(Note: Upwards of 40 people signed before it was uploaded to petitiononline.com. See http://pdx.wiki.org/Adams_letter )