In the past I have attended government meetings where during the course of public comment a couple of people in the audience took the opportunity to chastise the local newspapers, ours included, for not running their letters to the editor.
First of all, a city council, township or school board meeting is not the place to address your personal gripe with the newspaper. We are not a part of municipal government, we’re there to observe like you are and, frankly, we don’t even have the right to stand up and speak because we are simply there to watch and record what happens. Your elected officials can’t do anything to change our letter writing policy, though I suspect for some people airing a complaint like that, knowing as reporters we can’t address the matter in the meeting, is a good way to stir people up and make them think we are actually in cahoots with some elected or appointed official. It was a conspiracy.
Honestly, there is no conspiracy. The people who stood up and complained about the newspaper not running their letters both were understandably unhappy, but we had good reasons for not running their letters. In one case the letter was too long, exceeding our 300 word limit by almost 200 words and the author had asked that I not cut anything out. That requirement left me hamstrung and unable to use the letter. In the other instance the letter was, honestly, unprintable. The handwriting was not entirely legible, it exceeded the word limit and much of the content did not make sense.
So if you write a letter and it doesn’t appear within two weeks, don’t feel you have to bring the pitchforks and torches to your local city council or township meeting — just give me a call.
I’m going to use this opportunity to remind readers of our letter writing policies. One policy is letter writers can only have one letter published every 30 days.
While I believe in everyone having the right to have their opinion shared in the local newspaper, some people are prone to writing week after week, often about the same subject.
As always, letters to the editor must be under 400 words (I will allow some flexibility, but not much) and we reserve the right to edit for length and content (in other words, have your facts straight). Your letter must be signed, with a hometown listed and a phone number (which we will not publish).
Personal attacks on individuals are not allowed, so avoid name-calling, character assassination and unsubstantiated accusations.
Send your letters to 220 N. Main St., Davison, MI 48423 or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org. And please, don’t let the rules scare you off, we want you to write — just stick to our requirements. And if you need to check on a letter, give me a call at 810-452-2650.