Monday, April 9, 2007

Letters we won't publish -- and those we will

Q. Do you publish every Letter to the Editor and every Viewpoint that’s submitted?
-- Nipomo Newcomers Club

A. No. We currently receive about 400 letters a month and publish about 75 percent of them. We screen out those that are personally vindictive, libelous, too long or don’t make sense. We’re also careful to avoid rehashing the same arguments over and over. But we will not hold letters just because they don’t allow us to balance readers’ comments on a specific issue. To give you a sense of the type of letters we won’t publish, consider these that we rejected:
-- A postcard from “Nick o’Tine’’ noting that if all those who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day were to stop smoking they could buy one gallon of the “precious combustible liquid that runs el caro” with their savings.
-- A local candidate for mayor who called one of his opponents a “true TERRORIST ready and waiting to destroy our very existence, just the same as the ones that flew the planes into the Twin Towers in New York.’’
-- A letter that appeared to be on the Governor’s stationery, urging his “Dear supporting friends’’ visiting Vienna, Austria, to use his favorite transportation, “Erstes Wiener Erotic Taxi.’’ The stationery included a photo of the taxi service.
-- A letter signed by “Cheeki Buddocks’’ asking “What’s with this guy Dr. Gott? Is he stuck on anal functions?” Attached was the headline from one of Dr. Gott’s columns about irritable bowels.
For the record: The best letters are short and cogent, 150 to 200 words. They make their point quickly and crisply, supported by facts. They are devoid of personal invective -- and if they are written with humor and style, all the better.
Letters should be timely but they don’t have to focus solely on local government or school board decisions. For example, if there is a problem in your neighborhood or something that you think the public needs to know about or an issue that you believe The Tribune has missed or covered inadequately, we encourage you to write about that.
Use the letter to convey your knowledge, critical thinking and point of view to try to influence others. We believe that informative letters help us ask tough questions so that residents can make wise decisions on issues that affect our lives.
Letters sent via e-mail will be published first because we don’t have to re-type them into our computer system. Please send them c/o
_ Sandy Duerr

No comments: