Letters to the Editor are an extremely valuable asset to newspapers and a celebration of what makes the industry unique.
They allow readers to express concerns about issues that directly affect citizens in the respective community. They also allow a way for readers to pass words of thanks, congratulations and adoration for people and organization who went above and beyond for a community.
The opinion page is one of the most commonly read in a newspaper, so words expressed in Letters to the Editor are likely seen by thousands of eyes, including those of government and political officials.
Letters to the Editor are also a benefit to newspapers as well. As clued into a community as reporters are, not everything is immediately apparent. So, letters can bring new, previously unknown issues to the surface or shine additional light on ones for which few details are known. The news is aimed to inform the public, so who better than to sound off on happenings than the community stakeholders?
The tricky part of letters to the editor, however, is the fact that these are opinion pieces. Very rarely will everyone agree with sentiments expressed in letters and oftentimes, these letters address sensitive issues and can make one side look unfavorably. They can also be political in nature.
Whether they address touchy and divisive subjects or not, Enterprise Media Group prides itself on the fact that we run all letters to the editor – within reason. Unless a letter comes off as libelous or defamatory towards an individual or group, all letters have a spot on the opinion page. Everyone has an opinion about something and if someone feels strongly enough to put those in writing, choosing not to run those gives the impression that we aren't open to differing opinions. Everyone's opinion carries value and all should be given a chance to express it.
Now, while letters to the editor, personal columns and editorials all run in the same space, it's important to know they are not all the same. While letters to the editor are reader-submitted, editorials are decided upon and written by staff. At EMG, a team of three picks and writes the topic of the week. Editorials are meant to lay out the facts of an issue while expressing the paper's stance on it. Personal columns, written by our staff, are a chance for reporters to show readers a glimpse into their personality and personal lives. They also do not reflect the views and opinions of the publisher or the newspaper, so their words are truly unique to themselves.
While all three are different, they each provide a chance for different voices to fill the paper and offer an opinion or a unique story. All three are important to a newspaper and each one should be celebrated as a integral piece of what makes community newspapers special.
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