By Way of Explanation…

You are reading an editorial. It’s the opinion of this newspaper, written by the editor. And as it does every week, it runs under the overall heading – in big letters – of “editorial.”

On this page most weeks – that is, whenever we have them – letters to the editor, written by our readers, are printed adjacent to the editorial. If we receive a letter in time for the week’s publication (5 p.m. every Monday, holiday or not), and it meets guidelines about length, identification and libel, it is printed on this page. And if there are enough letters, they continue onto other pages of the newspaper, where they are also run under the heading of “letters” in big print.

We are saying all this because every so often, when something controversial happens or a contested election arrives, we are accused – and that’s the accurate word – of running “only one side” of an issue, while failing to run letters from the opposing side. We’re accused of bias and not doing our job.

That’s one of the most insulting things to say to a journalist or newspaper owner. Only in the editorial itself does the newspaper take a stand on an issue.

Letters, on the other hand, are the opinion of the letter writer, and they have nothing to do with the opinion of anyone at the newspaper.

We print letters critical of the newspaper all the time. We print letters we privately agree with – and we print letters we privately disagree with. We have no control – nor do we want control – over others’ opinions.

We have no secret file where we put letters so they don’t run in a timely fashion, and we don’t count pros vs cons in the letters that run. If proponents of only one side of an issue send in letters, that’s the choice of those on the other side. Not of this newspaper. And it isn’t then the role of the newspaper to fail to publish those letters just because no one is countering them.

So if you aren’t reading letters favoring your pet project – the proposed School District auditorium in Londonderry is one such topic that repeatedly comes up in this category – or extolling the virtues of your chosen candidate, don’t blame the newspaper. Blame yourself for not writing a letter expressing your opinion, or blame your fellow supporters – or opponents – for not taking the time to express their views.

And if you’ve written a letter and don’t see it in the paper, please contact the editor. We have limited control over what may have ended up electronically in “junk mail.”

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