Our job is to make sure you, the reader, get the last word

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O

ur Readers’ Opinions — your letters to the editor — are the heart of the Union-Bulletin’s opinion pages. And that’s why I make every effort to get your letters in print. All of your letters.

There are a few reasons letters aren’t printed. They are submitted by people who have no connection to the area (usually mass mailings), are sent anonymously, are illegible or libelous.

When other problems with letters crop up — way too long, factual errors or being offensive — I contact the letter writer by phone or e-mail to see if changes can be made so the letter can be published.

The most frequent problem is length. We limit letters to 400 words, which is a very generous limit. Most newspapers hold letters to 250 words or less. If the letter writer can’t or won’t trim the letter to under 400 words, I usually offer to do it. If the writer doesn’t want it cut, then it doesn’t run.

It is usually trickier to solve other problems such as whether a letter is factual. For example, some people have come to believe that if they read something on the Internet it is a "fact." Really? So if I were to post on the Internet that the sky is green or that the state Legislature wants to outlaw chewing gum then these are now facts?

I’ve heard a few, um, interesting perspectives on what is a "fact" in the more than two decades I’ve been editorial page editor.

Still, there are some interpretations of facts that can be a gray area. So, depending on how they are phrased, some interpretations are allowed.

Again, we believe it is important to allow everyone the opportunity to express his or her views on matters of public interests.

The variety of opinions expressed in the letters surprises some people. A few people have told me they figured the U-B would print only letters that agree with its editorials or praise the paper’s news coverage.

Those who regularly read the letters know that’s not even close to true. The U-B takes plenty of hits for its news coverage and its opinions.

And when that occurs we don’t use the Viewpoints page or the editorial — Our Opinion — to argue with or take shots at letter writers. We believe readers should have the last word. Letter writers should feel free to state their views. This, in the long run, promotes diverse opinions and spirited debate within the community.

Fostering that community discussion is among the most important roles of any newspaper. The more voices that are heard, the better our readers are served.

The discussion is particularly important at election time.

The ballots for the Nov. 3 election were mailed Friday, which means some folks will cast their ballots today while others will wait for another two weeks.

In the days when nearly everyone went to a polling place to cast ballots on Election Day, most letter writers waited to comment on candidates or issues so their letters would be printed on or close to the Sunday before the election. As a result, we published page after page ... after page of letters on that Sunday.

Vote by mail has changed that. It now makes more sense to get letters in early, about the time the ballots are being mailed. Still, others like to wait. That’s why you will see the Viewpoints and Perspective sections filled with election letters from now until Nov. 1. (By the way, the deadline for submitting letters is Oct. 27 at noon. Not 1 p.m., not 12:10 p.m., not 12:01 p.m. NOON. I hold firm to that deadline.)

But if you want to write about subjects other than elections, feel free to do it anytime. And those letters will be published if you follow the guidelines below.

If you have followed the guidelines and you haven’t seen your letter published within a week, PLEASE check with me. In most cases the letter has been lost in cyberspace or was swallowed up by an overzealous spam filter. Again, feel free to call me at 526-8309 or e-mail me at rickeskil@wwub.com.

Letters welcome

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin welcomes letters to the editor on subjects of general interest.

Our address is P.O. Box 1358, Walla Walla, WA 99362.

If possible, e-mail letters to letters@wwub.com.

Letters must be less than 400 words.

The writer’s name and city will be published. But to be considered for publication, the letters must be signed and include the full address of the writer and a daytime telephone number. The address and phone number will be used for verification only.

All letters are subject to condensation and will be edited for spelling, grammar, libel, taste, factuality and style.

Letters should not contain personal attacks and be written to address our readers, not other letter writers or public officials.

Thank you letters and poetry are not accepted.

No more than one letter per week from any individual will be published and no more than 15 letters a year will be accepted.

O

ur Readers’ Opinions — your letters to the editor — are the heart of the Union-Bulletin’s opinion pages. And that’s why I make every effort to get your letters in print. All of your letters.

There are a few reasons letters aren’t printed. They are submitted by people who have no connection to the area (usually mass mailings), are sent anonymously, are illegible or libelous.

When other problems with letters crop up — way too long, factual errors or being offensive — I contact the letter writer by phone or e-mail to see if changes can be made so the letter can be published.

The most frequent problem is length. We limit letters to 400 words, which is a very generous limit. Most newspapers hold letters to 250 words or less. If the letter writer can’t or won’t trim the letter to under 400 words, I usually offer to do it. If the writer doesn’t want it cut, then it doesn’t run.

It is usually trickier to solve other problems such as whether a letter is factual. For example, some people have come to believe that if they read something on the Internet it is a "fact." Really? So if I were to post on the Internet that the sky is green or that the state Legislature wants to outlaw chewing gum then these are now facts?

I’ve heard a few, um, interesting perspectives on what is a "fact" in the more than two decades I’ve been editorial page editor.

Still, there are some interpretations of facts that can be a gray area. So, depending on how they are phrased, some interpretations are allowed.

Again, we believe it is important to allow everyone the opportunity to express his or her views on matters of public interests.

The variety of opinions expressed in the letters surprises some people. A few people have told me they figured the U-B would print only letters that agree with its editorials or praise the paper’s news coverage.

Those who regularly read the letters know that’s not even close to true. The U-B takes plenty of hits for its news coverage and its opinions.

And when that occurs we don’t use the Viewpoints page or the editorial — Our Opinion — to argue with or take shots at letter writers. We believe readers should have the last word. Letter writers should feel free to state their views. This, in the long run, promotes diverse opinions and spirited debate within the community.

Fostering that community discussion is among the most important roles of any newspaper. The more voices that are heard, the better our readers are served.

The discussion is particularly important at election time.

The ballots for the Nov. 3 election were mailed Friday, which means some folks will cast their ballots today while others will wait for another two weeks.

In the days when nearly everyone went to a polling place to cast ballots on Election Day, most letter writers waited to comment on candidates or issues so their letters would be printed on or close to the Sunday before the election. As a result, we published page after page ... after page of letters on that Sunday.

Vote by mail has changed that. It now makes more sense to get letters in early, about the time the ballots are being mailed. Still, others like to wait. That’s why you will see the Viewpoints and Perspective sections filled with election letters from now until Nov. 1. (By the way, the deadline for submitting letters is Oct. 27 at noon. Not 1 p.m., not 12:10 p.m., not 12:01 p.m. NOON. I hold firm to that deadline.)

But if you want to write about subjects other than elections, feel free to do it anytime. And those letters will be published if you follow the guidelines below.

If you have followed the guidelines and you haven’t seen your letter published within a week, PLEASE check with me. In most cases the letter has been lost in cyberspace or was swallowed up by an overzealous spam filter. Again, feel free to call me at 526-8309 or e-mail me at rickeskil@wwub.com.

Letters welcome

The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin welcomes letters to the editor on subjects of general interest.

Our address is P.O. Box 1358, Walla Walla, WA 99362.

If possible, e-mail letters to letters@wwub.com.

Letters must be less than 400 words.

The writer’s name and city will be published. But to be considered for publication, the letters must be signed and include the full address of the writer and a daytime telephone number. The address and phone number will be used for verification only.

All letters are subject to condensation and will be edited for spelling, grammar, libel, taste, factuality and style.

Letters should not contain personal attacks and be written to address our readers, not other letter writers or public officials.

Thank you letters and poetry are not accepted.

No more than one letter per week from any individual will be published and no more than 15 letters a year will be accepted.

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