Letters to the editor serve a purpose

The weeks leading up to an election often see an increase in the number of letters submitted to our newspaper for publication in our opinion section.

There are, no doubt, numerous thoughts about the various candidates, levies and other items set to appear on our ballots Nov. 3, and residents and candidates see our letters page as an opportunity to reach voters to express their thoughts on the issues.

You’ve probably seen a couple of these appearing in recent weeks, and I’m sure there will be more in the weeks ahead.

As a refresher, below is our policy for all letters to the editor. This appears each day on our opinion page:

“Include your name, city and a daytime telephone number where you can be reached for confirmation of your letter. We do not publish anonymous letters. If possible, type or e-mail your letter. We do not publish letters that are personal attacks on individuals or businesses. We reserve the right to edit or reject any letters submitted for publication. Letters also need to be limited to no more than 500 words.

All letters submitted and deemed appropriate will appear in the Sunday Weirton Daily Times. Letters need to be submitted by noon Thursday to appear in that Sunday’s paper.”

In addition to our usual letters to the editor policy, we have established a deadline for the publication of letters related to the election.

Our newspaper dated Oct. 25 will be the final edition for election letters. We traditionally do this to provide a bit of a buffer leading up to the election. That means, in order to be considered for publication, those wishing to submit letters for that edition must have them to us no later than noon, Oct. 22.

Newspapers remain an important component to any community, and that includes providing the opportunity for public discourse through our opinions pages. Every weekend, we publish letters from our residents on a variety of topics, whether it be national politics, the actions of their local elected officials or recent community events.

There aren’t nearly as many letters submitted as there used to be, but we continue to encourage our residents to submit them. For the most part, every letter submitted to us is printed. There have been very few times one has been rejected. When such a situation has occured, it’s usually been because of a violation of the letters policy, because we’ve been unable to verify its authenticity, or because we’ve discovered it was a form letter (we sometimes receive a group of letters with the exact same wording, but listing different authors).

Personally, I like to see these letters come into our newsroom. It shows people care enough about the issues that they are willing to put their thoughts out there for others to read. I realize with social media, that’s easier to do than in the past, but there’s still something special about seeing public discussion on the printed page instead of in cyberspace.

So, with all of this in mind, I encourage our residents to let their opinions be seen and read by others throughout our area. Let us know your thoughts on the candidates and levies including in the coming election. But once the election is over, keep it going. Talk about your local festivals, the activities of your city councils and county commissions or state officials. Express your thoughts on current events or whatever other topic you might have in mind.

Grow and strengthen the communication of the Ohio Valley.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)


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