Keep writing those letters!

Scott Swanson

This opinion page is often devoid of thoughts other than those of our staff, usually yours truly.

That’s certainly not by design or preference.

Thus, I’m truly delighted to see local readers and residents expressing thoughts about some of the events that have taken place in recent weeks.

As we’ve stated before, on this page, a letters to the editor is a good way to state your perspective in the public arena. We know from what readers tell us that many are interested in what others think.

The letters section in The New Era is intended to be a public forum where people can respectfully debate the issues. We do not decide to run a letter simply because we agree or disagree with the writer’s opinion. In fact, I literally can count on one hand the times we have not, in the last 15 years, run letters that met the basic requirements stated in the gray box above at right. I can count on many hands the letters I personally didn’t agree with.

We are, though, concerned about preventing the kind of mudslinging, fallacial brawls we see on Facebook, where writers often attack with personal insults, generalizations, and outright misrepresentations, whether intended or not. (Google “common fallacies” and you’ll see examples that look very familiar to any social media user.)

A good rule of thumb, which I try to follow myself, is to respectfully acknowledge and address opposing positions when stating my own. Doing so not only shows respect for others, but it usually strengthens one’s own argument. It’s certainly not a cop-out, a sign of weakness.

We live in tumultous times and we all have opinions and concerns. The newspaper opinion page is a healthy place to voice them. I appreciate the respect that’s been shown by writers in recent letters who were addressing contrary opinions.

When submitting a letter, follow the rules in the gray box. (The letter MUST include the writer’s true name AND a phone number so we can make contact if necessary). Without these, letters won’t run.

Also, keep it clean and no screenshots. If we think a letter is too raw for a 10-year-old (because we know some young children do read our paper), it’s not going to fly.

And please don’t send us screenshots of somebody’s Facebook page. If you want to cite or describe it in a letter, fine; but we will not run images of social media in our letters section. Those are not letters.

Above all, keep writing!