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PUBLISHER'S COLUMN | Opinion page meant for variety of views
Funny thing about opinions — we don’t always have to agree with them.
Such is the case with letters to the editor and editorial cartoons.
I received a letter last week from a newer Whidbey News-Times reader who didn’t like recent letters critical of President Obama. He said the writers’ comments were “tired” and “cliché.”
But he also urged omitting such letters in favor of more interesting viewpoints.
As I explained to the letter writer in an email response, I don’t assign topics of discussion to letter writers. Any letters that we receive are unsolicited and placed in our letters queue, unless they fail to abide by the letters policy.
I’d much rather publish letters to the editor that speak to an issue or express an opinion than publish one that includes a long list of “thank yous.” The opinion page of any newspaper is valuable real estate reserved for an open and frank exchange of ideas.
Some “thank yous” do slip through when there aren’t a lot of letters awaiting publication, but that is the exception rather than the rule. Letters that exceed our suggested 350 words or fewer policy also slip through when we have space.
I find it impossible to have a one-size-fits-all rule on letters. I know some newspapers can do it, but I prefer to run as many as we can get on any subject. It shows that we have an engaged readership, a community of people who care about what’s going on in their world.
To have unbendable rules on letters is far less desirable than allowing people to speak their minds — as long as we have the space to bend those rules.
During election time, the volume of letters increases greatly, and we strive to get everything into the paper. Sometimes a letter is left out if it treads on nearly identical territory as another letter, or is submitted by someone who isn’t local.
Whether I agree with the opinion expressed in any letter doesn’t matter, and isn’t a criteria for selection. If you send a letter, abide by the policies and sign it with your name, it will be published.
The policy for cartoons is similar. A cartoon isn’t necessarily representative of my or any other editor’s views. It is an opinion and will hopefully inspire some thought or a dialogue.
The opinion page isn’t reserved for any one viewpoint, nor should it be.
We welcome your thoughts. Keep sending us your letters to the editor.