Editor's Note: Elections: It’s time to review rules for letters

By Richard Wiens, The Triplicate May 07, 2012 04:47 pm

Spring is in the air and campaign signs are competing with the fast-growing grass for space on the lawns.

I’ve even seen a couple of yards sporting placards for both candidates in a particular county supervisor race. Now that’s bipartisanship — or maybe just an inability to say “no” to either side.

All seven candidates for the three supervisor seats on the primary ballot attended the Triplicate’s forum Tuesday night, along with an audience of about 110 people. While Primary Election Day is June 5, voters who requested mail ballots could be making their decisions as soon as next week.

As usual, the campaigns are partly playing out on the Triplicate’s opinion page in election-related letters to the editor. Whether they are the products of organized efforts or individual inspiration, I’ll endeavor to print as many of them as possible as long as they follow these guidelines:

• One letter per writer every 30 days during election season (this limit also applies to the candidates themselves, if they’re moved to correspond). E-mail them to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it if possible – paper copies take longer to process.

• The 400-word limit is in effect for all election-related missives – the option of longer Coastal Voices pieces is not there. This allows us to print more opinions, rather than wordier opinions. Missives coming in long will be shortened.

• Letters to the editor are all about local commentary — tell us how you feel and why. Local views on national issues are welcome, as are out-of-town views on local issues. Letters should not make claims or accusations that require substantial efforts at verification — those are called news tips and can be sent to the same location.

• Letters that mainly regurgitate information from the Internet get a low priority and may not be printed, although an occasional tip to check out a website is fine.

• Other rules are consistently listed on this page under the heading, “We welcome your views.” For instance, we don’t print personal attacks on private citizens, poetry, religious tracts, consumer complaints and overt advertising, to name a few. We also reserve the right to edit — for brevity, and to remove material that we either know to be false or that would require our staff’s time to verify. Again, the latter falls into the category of news tip — something we may choose to investigate, but won’t simply print as-is).

It’s coming, really…

It seemed simple enough. When the Triplicate converted to three days a week last October, we made a few changes to the front-page design. Down the left-hand rail, we added a section promoting a couple of stories that would appear in the next edition. Today, for instance, it reads “Coming Tuesday.”

On a handful of occasions, promised stories haven’t been delivered in the next edition because they basically got bumped by timelier articles. Such has been the case twice this week regarding reporter Anthony Skeens’ enlightening interview with recently retired Judge Robert Weir.

I won’t make the mistake of promoting it again on the front page, but come elections or high water, we will get that article in the paper next week!