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Our View: A news story, not an opinion

Readers respond to Durangoans’ quotes on Ukraine, Putin and more

Our news story on March 4 in The Durango Herald headlined “Durango immigrants condemn war but disagree on events leading up to Russia-Ukraine conflict” generated swift, fierce comments online. These readers were generally disturbed by what Durangoans with ties to Ukraine, Russia and Eastern Europe had to say about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions, separatist regions and neo-Nazism. To be clear, this was a news story, not an opinion piece. The direct quotes in the story are attributed exclusively to those interviewed.

The conversation was spirited, for sure. Yes, it sometimes stings to hear views that don’t align with ours. It’s also important to hear them. Were we surprised by some of their responses? You bet. And it’s our job to accurately report what they said.

In case you missed the comments, a few heavy-hitters follow.

“I believe the writer and editor did a cherry-picking hatchet job with this article. . . Heaven forbid The Herald report the full truth of what was actually said.”

And . . .

“Publishing an opinion piece filled with Kremlin disinformation such as Ukraine being compelled by Nazi/Neo-Nazi influences when in fact their president is Jewish is highly irresponsible, Durango Herald. Journalistic integrity requires you to fact-check such blatant lies.”

And . .

“If you’re going to dedicate that much space to Putin’s puppets, you should dedicate more space to providing facts in the face of their illogical opinions. It’s bad journalism to give folks free rein to regurgitate Putin lies about the ‘denazification’ of Ukraine and only discuss context as it relates to WWII. . . Disappointed to see the Durango Herald ‘both sides’ this Russian war. Journalism should be elevating facts and logic, not elevating Russian and right-wing disinformation campaigns.”

It goes on.

For starters, let’s get straight on one point. The Herald’s editorial board strongly opposes Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. This is evidenced by the graphic of the Ukrainian flag with President Zelensky’s quote: “I don’t need a ride. I need ammunition,” that continues to run in the Opinion section. We’ve used the graphic like a banner to make the statement that we are in solidarity with and support the Ukrainian people.

The Herald editorial board’s perspective of the Russia-Ukraine war is based on news sources that meet our high bar of journalism standards. We count on boots-on-the-ground journalists who report to news outlets, credible and reliable, that we count on. Information from reputable sources shape our opinions. We look at what is happening now, in real time.

Those interviewed brought their own perspectives on the narratives of past and present events through the lens of their original cultures, families and backgrounds. Nazi-occupied Ukraine and hopes of independence from the Soviet Union. Separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, and tensions that escalated eight years ago. The Ukrainian language becoming the official language over Russian. These subjects help us understand the why. This makes for a good news story.

Still, The Herald’s editorial board remains secure in our position of opposing Putin’s invasion, and the suffering and devastation it’s causing the Ukrainian people. We do not waiver from this place.

Our news story gave voices to each person interviewed. Each person had a different take on it.

Again, their own words, not ours.