Editorial: Rules for letter writers to follow this month

10/11/2013 5:00 AM |

It’s about this time each year that the job of putting out a quality weekly newspaper and maintaining 24-hour news websites gets jammed up with phone calls and emails from local political party leaders, candidates and their supporters regarding letters to the editor. Many complain about how letters or Guest Spots were edited and which letters ran or didn’t run.

First, anyone reading this paper should know that, above all, Times/Review Newsgroup strives for fairness in its editorial content — including reader input, be it letters or other opinion pieces. That means if some items of factual concern were removed from your letter or your language was changed for some reason, please trust that other submissions are being treated the same way. All letters, guest columns and even political ads are vetted for blatant factual errors or potentially libelous charges. Other than that, the editors try not to be too heavy-handed.

As for which letters make it into the paper, here are the basic ground rules (in addition to our standard letters policy):

• Each candidate will be allowed just one letter each between today, Oct. 10, and Election Day.

• Letters from supporters will be considered for publication. In the past, Times/Review Newsgroup has rejected such letters outright but that stance has softened in recent years. Letters voicing political support for a candidate may run, but they will be judged according to several criteria, including whether the paper is being fair in giving equal space to other candidates’ supporters and whether the letter itself raises clear, factual and interesting points.

• Letters that pour in as part of an obvious writing “campaign” will be largely ignored. If several letters come in regarding one particular candidate before an edition’s publication date, we’ll publish one of them.

• No letters critical of a candidate or raising issues new to the campaign will appear in the Oct. 31 edition, the last one before Election Day, since that candidate would have no opportunity to respond in print.

• Letters expressing thanks to community groups and residents will be given minimal priority during the election season.

Above all, the Opinion pages of this newspaper should be an informative and enjoyable experience for the average reader.

And the average reader is our primary concern, even in a local election season.

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