During the coffee with the editor event I held on Mercer Island earlier this month, it was suggested that I publish a more comprehensive letters policy. It was a good idea.
And given that we’re in the thick of election season, and about to be running head first into the 2020 presidential election, it’s not a bad idea to refresh readers on our requirements for letters. This also gives us, as a newsroom, an opportunity to reaffirm how we make our decisions.
Before reading the letters policy, I would like to note what it doesn’t say.
This letters policy doesn’t say that I will make editorial decisions about letters to achieve “fairness.” Fairness is perceived, and not objective. So what do I mean by that?
First, if a letter writer voices support of an issue and uses all 300 words, that letter will run as a 300-word letter. If a letter writer voices support of an issue, but only opines for 150 words, that letter will run as a 150-word letter. Both letters were received and published.
Second, if we receive 10 letters in support of an issue and only two letters in opposition, we will run all 10 supporting letters and both opposing letters in the order that they were received. This takes the subjective decision of “fairness” out of the equation.
One last note about letters — the letters are to the editor and not to other letter writers or other readers/citizens. The letters section of the newspaper is not a forum for arguments between two people.
The newspaper issue immediately preceding an election will have no political letters. That is because there is no opportunity for rebuttal. Letters may still be published to our website to accommodate.
Our aim is to provide an opportunity for readers to submit their thoughts and opinions about coverage and other issues. In our editorial decisions, we attempt to be reasonable and transparent.
Thank you for your letters.
The Bothell-Kenmore Reporter welcomes letters to the editor.
• Letters exceeding 300 words may be returned to the writer for revision. We strive to publish all letters.
• All letters must have a valid signature, with a printed name, address and daytime phone number for verification. Only the name and town/community are printed.
• We will publish only one letter per month per writer.
• Deadline to appear in the next publication is 3 p.m. Friday. Because of the volume of letters received, not all letters are published the week they are submitted. Time-sensitive letters have priority.
• Letters are subject to legal limitations relating to defamation and factual representation.
• Letters should be submitted to the attention of the regional editor, Corey Morris, via email at email@example.com or mailed to 11630 Slater Ave. NE, Ste 8/9, Kirkland, WA 98034.