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Earlier discussion

Globe editor-in-chief Edward Greenspon takes questions

Continued from Page 1

Can you explain why The Globe, which is after all a publication that prides itself on it's worldwide coverage, should choose to decline to report relevant Afghanistan-related news disseminated by other organizations out of Rome, Berlin or Paris.

Edward Greenspon: Good morning, Banquo. It's good to talk to a fellow truth teller this morning.

Unfortunately, I can't agree with the premise of your question. In fact, I would say that our interest in the development of Afghanistan and the social, economic and political dynamics of the country and region are heightened, not lessened, by Canada's involvement there.

Naturally, we are covering Canada's military and developmental commitment. Canadian lives are at stake and the form of our participation has become an important point of debate in this country.

And Canada, unlike the Germans and Italians, has all its soldiers on the front lines. Look at the casualty figures.

That said, we are not ignoring the broader story.

I'm sure you would have noticed in the last few weeks that Graeme Smith, one of our talented correspondents rotating through Afghanistan, paid a vist to Quetta, not an easy thing to do. Quetta, over the border in Pakistan, is Taliban Central. Graeme interviewed Taliban leaders about their perspective on the battle.

We have also written extensively about relations between tribes on the ground and political leaders and on opium and Afghan-Pakistan relations, to name a few subjects.

So I think we are doing what you say we should do.

Owen Perry, Guelph, Ont.: First, I would just like to say that you run a very informative and up-to-the minute website.

You also deserve kudos for allowing readers to comment on each and every story you run. The end result is a first-hand view of how Canadians from a vast array of backgrounds perceive the major issues in the world today.

In fact, I believe you should take it a step further and create a separate area of the website and dedicate it to discussions on important current issues — perhaps a chat room or forum?

What do you think?

Edward Greenspon: Thank you for the positive feedback, Owen. I know the people working on globeandmail.com will be very pleased.

We understand that the Internet is a different medium than the newspaper, each with its own strengths. One of the strengths of the web is that readers can participate much more fully in discussing and debating issues of the day. I think of it as an electronic salon, attracting a well-informed and opinionated group of Globe readers.

The comment feature has certainly proved popular since its launch. We receive about 50,000 comments every month. We have to police these comments for foul language, defamation etc., but our basic thrust is not to get in the way of this rollicking conversation.

I think the idea of extending this conversation into special rooms in the salon dedicated to particular issues is worth a good look.

JDM Stewart, Toronto: Mr. Greenspon, as you know, I love The Globe and Mail and all it does.

I am wondering why The Globe does not run more verbatim remarks from things such as speeches or exchanges from the House of Commons. In the 1970s and beyond, The Globe used to run a regular feature during which they highlighted these types of things. The New York Times will often run the text of important speeches and I think if The Globe did this, it would contribute to giving Canadians a better idea of what happens in Parliament, where too often this is defined by what is seen on television. If a backbencher gave a very thoughtful speech about an issue, it could get some play in the paper.

If The Globe used to do this type of thing, why not bring it back? Or at least make it a Web feature on globeandmail.com

Edward Greenspon: Thank you very much for joining us today. I think all our readers know not just how much you love The Globe, but how much you contribute to it through your letters.

As I said earlier, the paper and Web are different media with different strengths. The paper is governed by space, a limited amount of it, whereas the Web is wide open territory.

That means we must be far more selective in publishing verbatims in the paper. Not that we don't do, we just tend to be choosy.

Does it help a reader understand an event or issue better? This morning, you will have noticed, we published verbatims of yesterday's exchange of letters between Giuliano Zaccardelli and Stephen Harper. We thought that added value. Often, we will point readers of the paper to the Web for more of this sort of material.

Jonathan Kilius, Mississauga, Ont.: Thank you for your time, sir . . .

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