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Editor's note: Job description includes being letters referee

By Richard Wiens

Triplicate Editor

Power-busting windstorms. A major development in the push for a casino resort. Approval of controversial beachfront condos. Prison riots.

This is no sleepy little community I moved to just over a month ago. Those headline-grabbers barely scratch the surface of what's going on in Del Norte County. Our citizens are striving to repair and redevelop the Crescent City harbor, stave off state budget cuts for schools and parks, improve highways so that standard-size freight trucks can get in and out of here, and generally take care of a place that has as much natural beauty as, well, just about anywhere in the world.

There's always a steep learning curve for someone moving to a new area, and when that someone is the newspaper editor, the need to be a quick study is intense. The Triplicate didn't stop publishing so that I could ease into the position, but fortunately there was already a talented team covering the news here.

Starting today, I'll use this space on Tuesdays to talk about why we do what we do. This is ultimately the readers' newspaper, after all, and you deserve explanations. Feel free to email your questions to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or send them to the newsroom at P.O. Box 277, Crescent City, CA 95531.

When discourse runs its course

Any newspaper that's properly engaging local issues should have a vibrant letters to the editor section. This can be one of the best-read parts of the paper, and so far readers here haven't disappointed.

The ground rules are spelled out in a box in the lower-right corner of this page. But rules can't cover every eventuality, and it's my job to be the referee. For instance, I'm generally preserving a limit The Triplicate was already applying of one letter per month per writer. This keeps the voices diverse, although exceptions might be made to allow writers to address responses to their original letters.

It's also my job to recognize when discourse has run its course. The letters on a particular subject may keep coming, but there's really nothing more to say. Such was the case with the back-and-forth about whether there's an adequate non-smoking section at a local casino. All sides were covered, and I eventually turned off the spigot, but not before letting one letter-writer go a bit far in criticizing another in print. Sorry about that, Keith Ownsby.

One of our rules, after all, prohibits personal attacks on private citizens. Becoming a better referee is just part of my learning curve—and I don't have the benefit of instant replay.

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