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Jack Zaleski, Published October 20 2012

Zaleski: It’s a blizzard of campaign letters

As has been my practice for nearly every election cycle during the 25 years I’ve been editing and managing the opinion/

commentary pages for The Forum, here’s a rerun of advice about letters to the editor.

The last two weeks of the campaign season invariably see the blizzard of political letters intensifying. Even when the stream of letters is normal – that is when politics is quiet – we don’t have space to publish all we receive. Our space rarely changes because of political campaigns, so it follows that the culling process results in many more letters in the discard file. With that in mind:

Suggestion one: Keep ’em short. The general rule here during political seasons is that we want to get as many voices as possible on the opinion/

commentary pages. Shorter letters have a better chance of making the cut.

Suggestion two: Be original. Don’t take letter-writer marching orders from a campaign machine or merely sign your name to a cookie-cutter letter prepared by some campaign operative. First, to do so is dishonest. Second, I like to think writers of letters to the editor are smarter than that, although my time at this desk has sorely tested that notion.

Suggestion three: Don’t expect us to inform you of your letter’s status. Given the demands of the daily grind in the newsroom, we don’t have time to do that. Don’t call. Don’t try to make the case that your letter is better than some of the letters that made the cut. Don’t demand. That will get you nowhere, and likely will guarantee your letter ends up deep-sixed.

Suggestion four: Try to understand the simple concept that we make the call on which letters get into print and which do not. Let me say that again: We make the call. Period. Admittedly, it’s a subjective judgment, but we do strive for a balance of opinion letters, even if “balance” is alien to readers afflicted with partisan myopia. And there are lots of them.

Finally, our last day for publishing political letters will be in the Sunday, Nov. 4, editions of The Forum. Surely by then, anyone who values sanity will want at least one day’s respite from this stuff prior to Election Day. I can use a break now ...

Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at (701) 241-5521.