Ask the Editor: Please write letters in your words

Local commentary is designed for residents to share their own insights and opinions

March 28, 2010 

Hint to letter writers: Review your words carefully before sending us your missives. And be sure the words are your own. Consider the Letter to the Editor we were e-mailed last week:

“Health care reform has been a long time coming, and the battle this time around has been fierce. The insurance companies and their corporate lobbyists threw everything they had at Congress and at the public to try to sway Congress in order to kill reform and keep things just the way they are.

“But Congressman XX was smarter and stronger than to fall for their lies and scare tactics. He recognized that health care reform means. … I am proud to be represented by Congressman XX. His YES vote means he listened to us, not the insurance companies. ...’’

Clearly, the writer forgot to fill in the “X’s’’ before e-mailing her letter to us. We tossed it for that reason. But that wasn’t the only problem.

We also have a policy against running mass e-mails of this type. We routinely check the Internet when we notice repetitive phrasing in letters to help guard against publishing spam.

“While the Internet can be a good source of background information — depending on the reliability of the Web site, of course — we ask that letter writers make submissions their own, rather than cutting and pasting from the Web or, even worse, forwarding us a mass e-mail,” Opinion Editor Stephanie Finucane said.

Our local commentary is designed to be just that — a chance for area residents to share their insight and opinions on a wide range of topics, not repeat what someone else has written.

Q: I really liked the way you handled Tuesday’s editorials regarding health care. The three pieces from three different newspapers — each providing a different take on the issue — made for very informative reading.

I don’t recall your doing this in the past, although I may have missed it. I suggest you consider using this technique again on controversial topics that are of wide interest to many people.

— Robert Olson, Arroyo Grande

A: We’re glad that you appreciated this approach. We have taken it on other high-profile issues but not in a long while. We’ll certainly do it again when the issue — and range of commentary — warrants.

Q: When will news of my political endorsements appear in The Tribune?

— A few local candidates

A: As we get closer to the June 8 primary, we know that reader interest in the political races is heating up, Managing Editor Tad Weber said. Accordingly we will add a second Political Notebook to our coverage starting this week; it will run Wednesdays in addition to Sundays on the Local section front. As a reminder, endorsement announcements will be limited to organizations and elected officials who support a candidate.

The column also will publicize political forums, debates and events where a candidate speaks if the events are public.

Do you have a question about the newspaper, our Web site or our coverage? If so, please write me c/o The Tribune, P.O. Box 112, San Luis Obispo, CA, 93406-0112, or e-mail me at sduerr@thetribunenews.com.

Sandra Duerr is the executive editor of The Tribune.

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