| By G. Michael Dobbs|
Some folks have been asking about how our letters section works here at Reminder Publications and I've been asked to try to clarify the mystical process that letters go through in order to be published.
First, all letters go past our bomb-sniffing dogs and through the machine that can neutralize chemical contaminants. Next, our letters staff carefully opens each envelope they wear special gloves to reduce paper cuts and deliver them to the spacious, mink-lined office of the Managing Editor on a padded silver tray.
Once there, the letters must pass muster by our team of sharp-eyed attorneys, before the Managing Editor descends from his elevated desk to inspect them personally. Approved letters are marked with his signet ring and sealing wax and sent to the basement where the legions of typographers toil away transferring them to our computers.
Well, a fellow can dream, can't he?
It's not really like that at all, and here's what you need to know. We have criteria for letters that we do indeed follow:
To be considered for the next week's papers, we must get them by Wednesday at noon. Period.
They've got to be legible. Sending them by e-mail is the best way and every other means is a distant second.
They've got to have a name, address and phone number. Don't be surprised when I call you to ask if you did indeed send a letter to the paper.
I throw away anonymous letters. I barely glance at them if they are not signed.
Letters from a community group need to be signed by the group's chair.
Generally, the letters that are first in are the ones that are published first. Also, we try to balance the letters between communities and issues. Some weeks we simply can't fit all the letters and some are carried over. Sometimes we hold a letter from a regular contributor in order to allow a new voice to be heard.
The letters have got to make sense. Some letters we receive are clearly well intentioned but are confusing and we don't have the time to call you and ask you what you meant.
We try not to print letters that personally attack someone. Sometimes, it is a judgement call and I take responsibility for that. The best tact is to present your side of an issue and avoid calling someone a "meathead" because his or her letter ticked you off. Issues, rather than personalities, are the topics.
Finally, if you have a problem, please contact me. My phone number is 525-3247, ext. 103 and my e-mail is email@example.com. If you have a gripe and call me names on MassLive, I'll just ignore you. Call me, and converse like a responsible human being and I'll pay attention.
We truly love to hear from our readers. Keep sending in those letters.
And, as always, a letter accompanied by a high quality cigar always gets preferential treatment.
You know the drill. These are my opinions alone. Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or to 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028.