As a reader-supported nonprofit newspaper, The Sopris Sun makes a special effort to provide a public platform for the full breadth of experience and opinion in our community.
We publish the vast majority of letters to the editor and guest columns we receive, but due to space constraints or conscience, we occasionally leave some out. This is typically left to my editorial discretion, but in the interest of maximum transparency, this is an attempt to codify how we prioritize our opinion section.
First off, let me paint a picture of the ideal letter – the kind I’d feature first and be least likely to cut. It’s from a local source on a local topic. It’s a perspective we haven’t heard before from someone we don’t always hear from. It’s thought provoking, fair and well reasoned, not spiteful or mean. Bonus points if it comes in the form of a haiku.
Now, the reality of the letter section isn’t going to look like that. There’s only so much poetry in pitching your favorite political candidate, thanking the sponsors for your event or providing feedback to the paper — all important ingredients in the mix. But in choosing which pieces get prime placement and which get delayed or cut, here are a few things we consider:
- Timeliness. Letters sent to us by our Monday noon deadline or columns arranged in advance will always be given priority. Additionally, we give consideration to topics related to the the end of a comment period or an important vote.
- Novelty. Infrequent writers and submissions specific to The Sun get top billing (We just ignore mass mailings from national organizations, and have made a habit of turning down responses to stories or opinions that ran in other papers). Henceforth, I’m instituting a cap of three letters or one column per month per person (eulogies, reviews and other more editorial content excepted). Also, I leave a week between two letters from the same person on the same topic to give others a chance to respond.
- Relevance. As a local paper, we prefer to feature issues and experiences that resonate with our readers in particular. National issues can, of course, have local or personal implications — just bring it back here, if you can. For everything else, there’s the internet.
- Brevity. We can get several succinct letters on page 2 before the jump, leaving the back for the long-winded. If you email us a letter of over 500 words, we’ll probably ask you to cut it or else I’ll do so myself. We greatly prefer digital submissions (in the body of the email is best) but if you don’t have access to the internet, I will accept physical letters up to 250 words via traditional mail.
- Rationality. There’s no sense in printing the nonsensical. If we can’t understand what you’re talking about, we can’t really assess whether it meets our other standards.
By the way, hate speech and defamation (as legally defined) are the two things that will warrant outright refusal to publish. We like The Post Independent’s policy against using “illegal” as a pejorative noun for a human being. And while you’re welcome to criticize the actions of a public figure, we’re not the place for you to belittle your neighbors, make unsubstantiated accusations or advocate for anything illegal.
We’re confident most people can make their point without all that. Feel free to contact us if you have problems with these guidelines or, better yet, write a letter.