10-10-2019 Letters and Commentary

RULE IS STILL THE SAME… some things never change. That includes requiring a signature on Letters to the Editor. That doesn’t mean the policy won’t be updated to adjust to a situation that is new and the policy needs changing for fairness and clarity. This past year I’ve published a letter without a name that I probably shouldn’t have. I published it without much thought as someone else vouched for the writer. Months later I received a hand typed letter that was “just plain distasteful” and the name on it was something I was pretty sure was not the writer’s. I got another unsigned letter a couple weeks ago. As I usually do, I left it in my “to do” box for a couple weeks to give the writer an opportunity to stop by or call and ask why the letter was not published. Then I shredded it. Written six years ago this week, here’s that policy: UNSIGNED LETTER WON’T BE PUBLISHED…. I have a Letter to the Editor on my desk with some points about coaching behavior that I would like to print. But I won’t. The letter writer left out a name and contact information without which I cannot publish it. As it reads on the masthead at the bottom of this page under the header Letters to the editor… The Tri-City Record welcomes all letters to the editor. Letters should be typed. Letters are subject to editing for length and content, and will be published at the discretion of the editor. All letters must be signed and include a phone number and address so that authorship may be verified. Letter authorship identity may be withheld by request, at the discretion of the editor. The publication deadline for letters is 5 p.m., on Monday for that week’s issue. Over the years I’ve received many unsigned letters to the editor; most have been personal attacks on individuals without any public merit. Others have been illegible or so nonsensical that no amount of editing would make them suitable for publication. Without benefit of a name and contact information the decision not to publish is easy to make. It is the select few (perhaps two or 3) that have been published unsigned after I was able to talk with the writer and determined the validity of the issue and the identity of the writer. As it stands now for the unsigned letter here on my desk, it will be consigned to the shredder once this Kolumn goes to press. It has some valid points about the necessity of coaches giving a good example of fair play to the team and the dangers of “winning at any cost” to the same. Printing it unsigned would be no example of fair play either.

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