Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.
Hey, let’s talk about letters to the editor.
I’m no fan of censorship. I believe opinions should be expressed in the way the expressor wants to express them. I don’t see my job figuring out what the majority of people think and then promoting that point of view. In other words, I don’t want to figure out how to keep dissenting and obnoxious voices out of the paper; it’s my job to figure out how to get dissenting and obnoxious voices into the paper.
Frequent readers will notice we generally don’t put the communications praising the newspaper into the letters section. The fact is, we get a lot of them, but unless they are addressing issues that come up frequently in the paper, they don’t contribute to the dialogue—but it’s still nice to get them.
I should mention something else. I often get e-mails forwarded from writers and columnists. If you readers want to see your comments published, you’ve got to cc those comments to email@example.com.
So how do you make sure your letter gets into the paper? Well, first, be concise. Remember, I’m trying to get a lot of voices into the paper. You want to tell me I suck, slept through my journalism class or call me a name, do it in 200 words. I don’t particularly care if your letter is relevant, but given the choice between a letter that addresses something that’s been in the paper and some moveon.org or rightmarch.com Astroturf (pre-written letters you just put your name on), I’m going with the local stuff. I don’t edit for content, but I do edit for length, grammar and libel. You’ll want to include contact information with your letter, too.
Lately, I’m noticing a disturbing trend toward people sending letters with fake names (and sometimes addresses). C’mon, we’re not morons; there’s this thing called a reverse directory. Don’t be a coward. If you’ve got something to say, put your name on it. We do.