Tuesday, October 2, 2007

When we publish Letters to the Editor online

Will Power of Arroyo Grande suggested that it would help readers if we could clearly explain our policy of featuring only certain letters in the widely read print edition of your paper while relegating other letters to the much less read "online" version. "Perhaps The Tribune feels that some opinions need more exposure than others,'' he wrote me.

Here's my answer:
When we publish letters online, it’s typically because they’re in response to stories that only appeared online or because we’ve had an overflow of letters on a specific subject and they’re time sensitive. We have not done it often. “For example, we did that at election time and from time to time, have done it with the Los Osos sewer issue,’’ said Opinion Editor Stephanie Finucane.
In addition, when we receive an extremely long local Viewpoint, she said, “we sometimes give the author the option of running an abbreviated version in the daily, and running the full version online.’’ In all of these cases, we include a refer on the Opinion and Voices pages directing readers to our online site.
For the record, the Opinion and Letters sections on our Web site are consistently among our most popular, according to Online Editor Sally Buffalo. They received more than 20,000 page views during September, she said, adding that “between 9,000 and 14,000 people a day come to SanLuisObispo.com, some returning several times throughout the day. And we’ve seen that number grow in the past few months.”

-- Sandy Duerr

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