|Facts need to be accurate to be part of a letter to editor|
|Written by Trista Steers MacVittie|
|Monday, 09 January 2012 00:00|
Our letters to the editor section is designed as a space for our readers to express their opinions.
Readers usually base their opinions on facts, or at least what they perceive to be facts. However, what we find when sorting through some of the submissions is facts and figures cited in letters don’t always match up with the records we’ve seen from the agencies mentioned.
In an effort to improve our letters page and lessen the spread of misinformation, we are instituting a new letters to the editor policy.
We’ve used this policy in the past, mostly regarding guest perspectives and commentary over contentious issues. Now, we’re extending the policy to all of our letters.
Letters simply stating opinions and not citing any figures or statements deemed to be facts can continue to be submitted as they were before. All we need is your letter — with a word count under 300 words, full name, telephone number and physical address. Your address and telephone number are used for verification purposes and will not be printed.
If a letter includes any facts or figures it must be accompanied by documentation proving the figures are accurate.
We’ve discovered when we ask people to cite sources, and they dig around, they sometimes find what they once thought to be true may not be so accurate.
Opinions based on facts, regardless of whether we agree, are welcome, and we don’t have a problem with letter writers using facts to strengthen their arguments, but the facts need to be accurate.
Form letters also recently started appearing in our mail bag.
The exact same letter came in with three different signatures. We will not publish the same letter repeatedly.
We may publish it once, but not twice. If readers with the same opinions wish to express them, they need to write their own letters.
We rarely find problems with people submitting letters with names other than their own; such behavior is mostly isolated to comments on websites. However, we do often use the telephone number and address to verify the letter actually came from the person named.