Viewpoint: Bulletin's policy on letters to the editorThe Bulletin encourages people to write letters to the editor, and here are some of the guidelines to keep in mind.
By: Scott Wente, South Washington County Bulletin
Local street repairs, state politics and a city charter — all have been the subject of recent letters to the editor and viewpoints on this opinion page.
We’ve noticed a steady stream of letters submitted lately and look forward to that continuing in the weeks and months ahead, especially considering that the 2012 elections are creeping ever closer.
We consider that robust letter-writing activity a good sign. It suggests readers are taking interest in issues that affect them and the community. Not only that, they’re taking the time to share their opinion with fellow Bulletin readers. Those shared views can provoke a greater discussion, whether it’s staking out a position on an issue before the Legislature, the pending petition to create a city charter in Cottage Grove or on any number of other local issues.
Remember these guidelines:
-- Preference is given to local writers and local issues. We want to hear from Bulletin readers, our subscribers and area residents.
-- Keep it to 350 words.
-- If you’re weighing in on an issue that’s been the subject of previous letters, be creative. Make new arguments. Take a different position.
-- The earlier the better: our stated deadline for letters is 5 p.m. Thursday for the following week.
-- Keep it on topic.
-- This is not an anything-goes forum. We want to encourage constructive opinions and reserve the right to refuse those that aren’t or that delve into personal attacks.
It’s probably a good time to touch on our viewpoints policy as well. Viewpoints typically are reserved for a submission that goes beyond simply offering an opinion. That could mean providing more context to an issue, offering an expert or well-researched opinion or tackling a lesser-discussed but interesting issue that will engage readers. Elected officials also are invited to submit viewpoints; it’s in the public’s interest to hear from those whom they put in office.
We generally limit viewpoints to 650 words.
There are other ways to make your voice heard and opinion read. You can post comments to stories that appear online at swcbulletin.com. Or you can comment on stories on the Bulletin’s Facebook page.
And if you really want freedom to express your views, you can start a blog using AreaVoices, the Bulletin’s blogging service. It is online at areavoices.com and easy to use. Email me with questions.