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Editorial: Getting your letter into print

The holidays are all about traditions, and one of ours that’s been in place for about 10 years is the annual list of all the people who write letters throughout the year.

The list is planned to run as early as the issue of Dec. 26. (Because of deadlines it’s a bit earlier than some years, but the 2013 count will reflect those letters that were published in the final one or two editions of this year.)

There are a few issues left if you want to make the 2012 list. Here is the Hood River News’ policy on letters:

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Letter writers are reminded that shorter is better. Concise letters are not only better read, they are more likely to be published because limited space is available.

Almost any point can be made in 350 words or fewer, so this is set as an upper level for length.

Unsigned letters, letters signed with fictitious signatures and copies of letters sent to public officials are not accepted.

We limit letters on a subject when we feel it has been thoroughly aired, to the point of letters becoming repetitive.

Also rejected are letters that are libelous, in bad taste or personal attacks on individuals or private businesses.

Writers must include addresses and telephone numbers. These are for identification purposes only, and will not be published.

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The fact is, 350 words is fairly long compared to many other community newspapers’ policies. The Hood River News had been even more lenient up until this year, when we have strived to hold every writer to the 350-word maximum.

We’ll continue to do so in 2013, to maintain timeliness as well as to leave as much room as possible for anyone who wants to write.

Nine out of 10 letters now arrive via email, meaning most computers have a ‘Word Count” tool that is a ready measure to ensure the letter is within the limit.

About “Another Voice”: In general, these submissions have been cleared with the news staff in advance, or are selected because they provide an alternative viewpoint to the Hood River News’ editorial, or a fresh take on a topic. At the news staff’s discretion, writers are provided Another Voice space to specifically address a previous letter or news article, in the interest of timely response or clarification of an issue.

We do encourage letters, and the reading of them. This is why we emphasize the word limit, and the need to provide us with contact information, so that in all cases we can confirm authorship.

The annual letters list is a way of saying thank you to the people who share their ideas and opinions, because we place a high regard on what our neighbors have to say. That’s why we call it “Our Readers Write.” Yes, they are letters, but the emphasis is on who they come from.

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