Letter Writing, Letter Reading: It’s Not That Easy
The majority of the letters received at The Newtown Bee are thoughtful reflections or opinions, or highlight activities in town, or are notes of thanks — but others give us pause.
Giving readers voice is not a matter of cut and paste, or type and post; each letter is respectfully reviewed. We recognize the difficulty in reining in passionate emotions. Some letters do not adhere to our standards of decency, however, or are a subject matter so removed from the concerns of our town and so poorly expressed that we believe readers would only be left scratching their heads. Those are easy to weed out, as are ones that use hateful language, threats, or stoop to name-calling. Thoughts negatively charged are not likely to encourage further considerate discourse, but rather encourage an avalanche of letters spiraling downward. Promoting mis- or disinformation is of no value to anyone, be it in verbiage or unvetted websites.
Past experience tells us that by October we will be receiving dozens of letters of endorsement, some of which have already begun to trickle in. This is an election season in which strong opinions will be expressed. We welcome those letters, so long as the sentiments are civil, and shared in 300 words — or less.
Promoting your candidate minus attacks on other candidates can only be seen as the high road. There may be qualities about one candidate unappealing to you, thus sending you on a search for another whose character you find better suited for a position. Revealing good qualities you believe your candidate personifies is useful to the undecided voter. Whether personal interactions or public actions have earned your praise, share those characteristics.
The conduct of a public figure that could affect how constituents are represented, questionable behavior of public servants, or institutions involved in suspicious actions, for instance, are items better explored from a news angle, and we do follow up on allegations. Contacting our editorial department is the place to start with these concerns, rather than letters. These are matters that deserve investigation and verification.
There is an old adage, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Unfortunately, that would serve to muzzle valid opinions regarding issues that are not always pleasant. But it is possible to say what must be said in a way that encourages reflection on the part of others or is simply informative.
The Newtown Bee strives to allow differing opinions in The Letter Hive; we appreciate writers understanding when we suggest crafting a letter for better suitability in our publication and the opportunity to edit. We do our best to determine when a line has been crossed, applying what we believe are reasonable standards. Disagreements with statements others profess are to be expected; and there is great value in opinions that allow us to see others’ points of view. A letter requiring multiple reads because of questionable content, though, needs a venue outside of The Newtown Bee.
So say what you must, but why not say it graciously?