Guidelines for submitting election letters and beyond

By Kate Klimesh, Editor-in-Chief

Looking ahead to the upcoming election season, I wanted to share guidelines for letters to the editor. As of September, we will post political letters to the editor online under the “Opinion” tab of our website at www.driftlessjournal.com, simply due to space constraints we already have each week in the Public Opinion print edition.

Letters submitted should not exceed 300 words, must include name(s) and town(s) of residence, along with address and phone number for verification. We publish letters focused on local issues and concerns, and do not include personal thank yous, advertisements, form letters or copies of mass mailing messaging. They can be mailed, e-mailed or dropped off in person at our office. The biggest unknown for many folks has been my discretion, as Editor-in-Chief, over publication of letters. 

Letters to the editor are an important part of civil discourse. However, I reserve the right to assess submissions for civility, and publish those I see fit to promote respectful, constructive and meaningful discussion, and potentially affect change within our community. To be civil is not to be complacent. It’s an active word, not a passive one.

I do not expect to agree with every civilly-crafted submission, but respect and uphold the public’s right to express their opinions on local issues. I personally appreciate the different perspectives that have been shared as civil discourse in the last few weeks’ issues.  

The engagement in civil discourse is intended to enhance understanding as a function of freedom of speech. It is discourse that “supports, rather than undermines the societal good.” Civil discourse is the “robust, honest, frank and constructive dialogue and deliberation that seeks to advance the public interest”.

In contrast, uncivil discourse is, “language containing direct insults, willful misattribution of motive without due reason, and open contempt.” This can also be called a “rant,” offered as comment. The speaker or writer simply rails at an issue, often throwing out ad hominem attacks. No opinions are changed; the rant does nothing but provide a proverbial “stick in the eye.”

We are one of few truly independent small community newspapers in the state that print today’s news, which becomes tomorrow’s history. We do our best to be impartial reporters of local events and affairs. Our small business employs 12 local individuals, and those paychecks help support them and their families and get spent right back in the community. 

I welcome civil discourse from letters to the editors submitted from readers. And those who prefer not to submit civil discourse or follow the letter guidelines can always purchase ad space to rant. 

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Rebecca Kamm
Guest
9 months ago

If your newspaper is really trying to become a community paper that highlights the positive activities of people in the area, you missed the mark by printing an “advertisement” that is really a political rant. Your own description of uncivil discourse is “language containing direct insults.” The author of this rant calls people who do not agree with him “ignorant” and “communists.” You should not care how much money you are offered to print something if you want to maintain integrity.