Letters, we need letters
Now is the time for all Dear Readers to come to the aid of their Sun.
I wrote that line believing it be a paraphrase of a quote by one of America’s Founding Fathers, hoping the lede would lead to more folks sending us letters to the editor.
Then I discovered those famous words involving a request to come to the aid of a country or party or garage sale were penned not by Patrick Henry, but by an early typing teacher named Charles Weller.
As John Adams wrote, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
Well, that’s what journalists do – seek and tell the truth – even if it blows the lede. (“Lede” is the opening sentence or paragraph of a news story or column – I’ve always thought it should be spelled “lead”).
I figured a reference to one of our Founding Fathers – of the country, not the Sun – would be a good way to ease into 600 or so words about why we want – nay, need - more letters to the editor.
Letters to the editor are a way for folks who don’t have a byline in a local publication to make their feelings known about matters important to them and, ideally, many others in the community. In a sense, they are a measure of the pulse of the community.
Lord knows the hearts of many beat a bit harder when they think about issues like higher property taxes for a new high school or teacher’s pensions or the sentencing of the man who killed a young boy in 2015. These issues have dominated our front page in the last several weeks – we’d like them to do the same on page two.
The rules for submitting a letter to the editor are on the bottom left-hand portion of page two each week: We need the name, address and phone number of the writer; we reserve the right to reject or condense letters and limit frequent writers; thank-you notes and personal messages are not published, nor are letters concerning candidates for local offices.
Oh – they should be 400 words or fewer.
If 400 words seem not enough, let me take you back to my dear old days in television, where, at one station, we were required to tell 99 percent of our stories in 165 words or so (not including anchor lead-in, tags and such).
There’s an old joke about a writer who’d been working on a novel for years and finally published the 1,000-page tome. Praised for his effort, the writer said that it would have been 500 pages if he’d had a bit longer to edit.
Again, I digress.
You may call me a dreamer, but I envision a day where page two is filled with letters to the editor and the occasional guest column or opinion/editorial – even if it pushes “Here’s Johnny” into the ether.
As these words are written, members of Logan Tipton’s family and others upset over the verdicts given his murderer are marching in the rain down Main Street towards the county courthouse. By the time I send this upstairs to Design Editor Marla Carroll, Ronald Exantus will have been sentenced.
The passion of the marchers is impressive.
We invite you to share your passion in the form of a letter to the editor – preferably by email.
We accept handwritten and typed letters, of course, but please keep in mind that if I was given a typing test today, the result might be, “Now it the team for all goop mints to Comey to the end of their county.” Thank you and good night.