We know of a major retailer that has begun soliciting residents who would like to write letters to the editor on its behalf.
While this is not a comment on the merits of its purposes, a caveat needs to be stressed:
It is this newspaper’s long-standing policy to decline publication of letters that clearly emanate from an organized rallying in support of a business or enterprise.
We hesitate to use the word “campaign,” because letters pertaining to an election candidate or initiative campaign are, of course, accepted.
In case of “canned” letters, those the writer has been rallied to write, the key phrases and “bullet points” are typically well-known, and are easily identified as the equivalent of filling out a shopping list of someone else’s messages.
On the other hand, a person could write a thoughtful letter on that subject, with their own words, and it would likely be published.
This is a good time to mention, with the 2014 Election season just around the corner, that the same restriction exists on election related letters; if they appear to be boilerplate issued by this candidate or that cause, they don’t go in the paper.
On the other hand, we faithfully publish original letters written by individuals.
Any inquiry about “Our Readers Write” policy comes down to “how do you decide which letters to print?”
Just about any point of view is welcome, and no distinctions, yea or nay, are made based on the opinion itself – just to how the writer expresses it.
In short, the answer comes down to three things, all of them in the hands of the writers themselves: Did you attach your name and a phone number? Does the letter avoid willfully incorrect or malicious content? Is the letter 350 words or fewer?
Do all those things and you’re pretty much assured of getting it printed. Nothing is eliminated based on topic or point of view, although we do reserve the right to select from similar letters on a given topic, for space reasons.
Hood River News reminds writers 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.
Thank-you letters are in nearly every case placed in the Neighbors column.
We do not print unsigned or “Name Withheld by Request” letters, nor those signed with fictitious signatures.
In every issue of the Hood River News, the “Our Readers Write” column is a vital part of the community forum.