Letter- Questions Letter policyI am writing to request details of Hudson Star Observer's publishing policy for Letters to the Editor.
By: By Karrie Weaver, Town of Hudson, Hudson Star-Observer
I am writing to request details of Hudson Star Observer's publishing policy for Letters to the Editor. Recently, many of the letters to the editor have been rife with innuendos, and outright accusations and personal attacks. However, these same Letters have lacked facts to support these accusations and innuendos.
As a news agency, HSO must have policies governing your newspaper's content. Would you please publish those policies that relate to the Letters? If not addressed in your policy, my questions include the following:
1. Do you accept every submitted Letter for publication? If you do not, what is the criteria used to select which Letters get published?
2. Are there any limits on how often a given individual can be published in the Letters?
3. What content-checking do you undertake to verify the content of a submitted Letter?
4. The following statement is included at the top of the “Opinion” page, prior to the Letters section: “All letters are subject to editing.” What are your editing guidelines?
5. Does the HSO set any parameters regarding a civil tone for Letters?
In addition to the lack of facts, many of these Letters sound more like playground taunting than civil discourse. What is the news value of personally attacking public servants or other members of the HSO reading audience?
HSO readers deserve to understand your publication policies. If factual content and a civil tone are not required in this section of the paper, I respectfully suggest the HSO should consider stating that at the beginning of the Letters section.
It seems that a small group of people regularly write lengthy Letters in the hopes that repeating accusations and theories without factual support will somehow turn these accusations/theories into fact. Some recent examples of this are Letters personally attacking the Hudson Superintendent and our School Board. However, at the end of the day, without factual support, these accusations and theories simply remain conclusory statements. Worse, some of the statements in these Letters have even been proven false at School Board meetings. By publishing these Letters, the HSO would be complicit in spreading misinformation. If this section of the HSO does not require any facts, and individuals who write such letters have figured that out as a way to spread their theories without accountability, then this portion of your paper has limited, if any, news value.
Karrie Weaver, Town of Hudson