‘Questionable journalistic license’

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To the Editor:

I am writing to admonish The MV Times for creating its own title for a letter I wrote last week concerning public access to Lambert’s Cove Beach. The title I submitted was “Share the beach.” The Times Letters editor changed it to “Consider ending beach apartheid.”

The tone of my original letter was purposely intended to be nonconfrontational and cooperative in nature. The Times, by using the powerful and pejorative word “apartheid,” undermined my efforts to approach resolution of this important matter in a respectful and neighborly way. Sensationalizing my letter to the editor in this way is, in my opinion, inexcusable. The individual responsible may wish to re-examine a journalistic ethics manual.

I do not consider West Tisbury’s beach policy as a manifestation of an apartheid institution. I do believe that all people should have access to public beaches on Martha’s Vineyard during the summer, and that very much includes places like Lucy Vincent Beach in Chilmark. Of course these visitors should follow the beach rules and regulations, to include the existing fee structure that West Tisbury residents already incur.

As I continue to learn more about West Tisbury’s beach access policies and perhaps suggest reasonable changes, these inquiries and discussions will be conducted responsibly and respectfully. The MV Times has undermined my approach, and perpetrated a disservice to the community and those of us who believe in open access to public beaches. The Times should be more thoughtful in the future about “willy-nilly” retitling letters to the editor to suit its own agenda or need for sensationalism.

Steve Maxner
West Tisbury