With the political campaign season in full swing, we expect there may soon be several political letters to the editor being written. Those people who ardently support a candidate or party will be mailing letters to the American-News and other newspapers seeking to sway voters to cast a ballot for their candidate or political party.
To make this as fair as possible, the American-News has a few rules that we will apply to letters before we decide whether or not to publish them.
First and foremost, letter writers should be local and, preferably, American-News subscribers. We receive letters from all over the state and sometimes from other states during election campaigns. Many of them are form letters that are produced and sent by campaign committees. Such letter are unlikely to be printed.
Other guidelines are:
• Letters should be no more than 400 words. In the past we have bent this rule to the point of it being meaningless. That will not happen this year. Writers must state their point or points clearly and succinctly, or their letters will not be printed. We will not presume to edit your letter for you.
• We will print one letter per person in support of their candidate or the party their candidate represents.
• State in your letter why people should vote for your candidate, not just why people should vote against the other party's candidate.
• Know your facts. Rumors and half-truths serve no useful purpose. If we question an accusation made in a letter written about a candidate, we will ask you where you found the information so we can research it.
• All letters must be signed and have a telephone number so we may verify authorship. We will attempt to verify authorship three times during our regular business hours. If we are unable to verify authorship, the letter will not be printed. Unsigned letters will not be printed.
• If we receive a large number of letters saying much the same thing, we reserve the right to choose a representative letter. We will indicate in an editor's note that additional letters were received stating the same thing.
• We will not accept photocopied letters or faxed letters. We want letters written by our readers stating their own opinion in their own words.
• No new issues may be raised in letters two weeks prior to the election. This will allow time for a candidate to respond to a claim made by an opponent.
Letters to the editor provide our readers with an opportunity to state how they feel about a candidate, the party the candidate represents, and issues about which the letter writer feels strongly.
We will print a candidate profile and questionnaire prior to the election giving candidates the opportunity to state their views on a variety of issues.