Community voices vital to this page

A reader sent a polite note last week regarding a letter to the editor that will soon be published in Times Observer. In it, he said he “respectfully” requests to be consulted on any edits.

Fair enough. However, the last letter this reader sent was 43 inches in length. For perspective, that is more than one-third of this page.

From this point of view, the letters to the editor section — “Readers Speak” — is my favorite part of any community newspaper. It gives some insight on what readers believe and it fosters a dialogue on important local and national topics.

That being said, it appears there needs to be a reminder — or a primer on letter submissions. Here are some guidelines to consider moving forward.

¯ Frequency — Readers are allowed one letter per month. If that letter appears at the end of the month, that same reader can have a letter included the next week if it is a new month. After that, the first day a letter will be accepted is after the first of the next month.

¯ Submissions — All letters must include a name, address and phone number. We also prefer that letters are sent electronically, if possible. Submissions can be through our web site at timesobserver.com or through e-mail at editorial@timesobserver.com.

¯ Length — If your letter exceeds 500 words, that means it is about 20 inches. In my opinion, the best letters are of the shorter version. Lengthier letters may be reduced or considered as a commentary piece in a future edition.

¯ Topics — Items of public interest are encouraged. We do ask that letters do not take on or call out previous writers who they disagree with on an issue. Instead, take on their opinion, not who wrote it. In addition, do not take on personalities. Keep the discussion on the issues.

¯ Style –We encourage letters that include sentences, not bullet points or lists.

Finally, we are grateful for all submissions. Because of the abundance of engagement, we are publishing more letters today than we were two months ago. We hope that trend continues.

Our commitment at the Times Observer is to local news and sports. Local commentary is just as important.

John D’Agostino is the regional editor of the Times Observer, The Post-Journal and the OBSERVER in Dunkirk, N.Y. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call (716) 487-1111, ext. 253.


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