Media outlets have an obligation to the readers they serve to publish balanced stories on the issues they cover. When they don’t live up to these standards, and only present a one-sided view, they – at a minimum – have a responsibility to publish an opposing perspective, typically in the form of a letter-to-the-editor, so that readers have all of the facts, and can decide for themselves who to believe.
The Winchester Star failed on both counts.
Last month, the Star ran an article about building code changes for Old Town Winchester that included several false and misleading quotes about vinyl windows from Kevin Walker, the Chairman of Winchester’s Board of Architectural Review (BAR).
Susan Wade from the VInyl Institute (VI) submitted a letter-to-the-editor to the Star correcting Mr. Walker’s claims to Adrian O’Connor, the Star’s editorial page editor.
Adrian O’Connor never responded.
We followed up.
Still, no answer.
We made every effort to allow the Star to correct the record. They ignored us.
There was a time years ago when media outlets held all of the cards. Reporters were able to say anything, or quote anyone, about PVC material, where little regard was given to providing readers accurate or balanced information on vinyl issues. And when media outlets ignored attempts to correct published misstatements via letters to the editor, like the case here with the Winchester Star, industry had little recourse to make sure the facts prevailed.
Not anymore. With the Vinyl Verified platform, we can do it ourselves. It’s why the recent interaction with the Winchester Star (or lack thereof) further justifies the work we do to expose media bias, when it occurs, about vinyl material.
We believe Star readers have a right to know the truth about vinyl windows. Since the Star declined to present a balanced view of the facts, in the spirit of transparency and accuracy, we are posting the letter the Star didn’t want you to see that corrects Mr. Walker’s erroneous claims.
What’s Old Sometimes Isn’t New Again … And That’s AOK
By Ned Monroe, President and CEO of the Vinyl Institute
It’s perfectly reasonable for historic city districts, like Old Town Winchester, to require the use of period materials in new construction and existing building repairs. But it’s irresponsible when City officials who oversee those projects publicly distort the facts and mislead citizens about modern materials and products, such as vinyl windows, in the process.
The Chairman of Winchester’s Board of Architectural Review (BAR), Kevin Walker, did just that in a recent article. He claimed vinyl window manufacturing is “highly toxic” – yet if he ever visited a production facility, he’d know that the industry operates under some of the strictest regulations in the world to ensure workplace safety.
Advancements in building materials, including vinyl, have brought enormous benefits to homeowners and builders alike. Vinyl windows are lightweight, easy to install, provide unsurpassed durability, are cost-effective, and can be customized in their design to accommodate anyone’s taste.
Historic projects should use materials of their time. And if Mr. Walker would prefer to use windows with lead counterweights in his home, that’s entirely his prerogative.
But it doesn’t give him the right to publicly disparage other attractive, modern-day materials, like vinyl windows, which provide practical, reliable, and affordable options for homeowners.