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Concerns About Letters



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To the Editor:

I was most disturbed to read the Letter to the Editor, “Can I Be Sure?,” by Connie Cooper, in the November 18 edition of The Newtown Bee. It certainly did make me wonder if any letter I submit to The Newtown Bee, under my name of course, will in fact be printed as I wrote it.

I have looked at The Newtown Bee’s “Letters policy” referred to by Mr. Voket in his “Editor’s Note” response to Ms. Cooper’s letter, and I do not see that this policy states that The Newtown Bee reserves the right to change people’s Letters to the Editor for any reason other than length. It says that “The Bee” reserves “the right to edit letters that are too long” and that “longer letters will be edited.” (Incidentally, The New York Times runs any and all edits, including those based on length, by authors, as well they — and The Newtown Bee — should.)

The above policy clearly does not relate in any way to the changes Mr. Voket made to Ms. Cooper’s letter (which actually made her letter longer rather than shorter). So why, Mr. Voket, did you not only cite this policy in your response, but say that Ms. Cooper would have felt differently about your changes if she had read the policy? This is clearly not so. Your citing this policy (irrelevant under the circumstances) only obfuscates the matter at hand, another concern I have.

I was pleased to hear, in Ms. Cooper’s letter, that Mr. Voket apologized to her for his edits and committed to discontinue this practice. But again, his “Editor’s Note” sadly makes one wonder how sincere his commitment is. Just what is your practice now, Mr. Voket? Do you or do you not edit for content?

I find all of this deeply troubling. In fact, will this very letter be changed from what I submitted? Is the risk of possibly having my name attached to something I did not actually say worth sending it in at all? These are big questions that we should not have to be asking in Newtown, CT, or anywhere in this country.

Addendum: It has been brought to my attention that as of yesterday, November 28, The Newtown Bee’s Letters Policy has unfortunately been changed to now grant The Editor the right to “edit any letter.” The above letter was obviously written and submitted before this change was initiated.


Sue Kassirer

Sandy Hook

Comments are open. Be civil.

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