The law of the letter

It's to put our readers' best foot forward, and not to trip them up

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It’s no secret we disagree with much of what President Obama does.

But neither should it be a secret how we handle your letters to the editor – about him or anything else.

The short answer is, we do our best to handle them with care.

Letters to the editor are one of the newspaper’s most popular features. And they add vitality and provocative discourse unlike any other.

We can’t get enough of them. We strive to print every printable letter. It makes our page, and our newspaper, better. We hope it makes the community better. We believe it does.

On rare occasions a letter or poorly turned phrase is just not up to publication – and you might imagine some of the reasons why. Length can be a problem, as is the question of libel. The letters section is not a forum for custody disputes or complaints of a bad business experience – or to seek to overturn your criminal conviction. It’s a place to debate public policy, cite community concerns, and applaud the good and bemoan the bad.

But this may be the one thing in the world we have no opinion about: As long as your letter is printable and you’re accountable, we don’t care what you have to say. Our job is simply to help you say it.

And we love doing it.

We never, ever withhold a letter because we may disagree with it. We don’t play up one side or play down another. We don’t rig the discussion in any way.

Well, except one: As professional wordsmiths who care deeply about the language we share, we do our best to put your best foot forward.

That means an occasional spell-check or fact-check (though with the volume of work involved, we simply cannot check all our readers’ facts). It sometimes means realigned paragraphs or reworded phrases for clarity.

The point of it all is twofold: to put a nice polish on your work, and to help it conform to newspaper style and form. Newspapers have a rather extensive stylebook that helps us standardize such things as capitalizations, abbreviations and spellings. That makes it easier on the eyes when they dodge between newspaper articles and reader contributions; anything else would be jarring to the eye and would distract from the message.

We like to explain all this to you, our readers, periodically, but were particularly motivated this time around by a recent online comment that accused us of trying to make the president’s supporters look bad by only printing their worst efforts at letters to the editor.

It was actually quite amusing, because nothing could be further from the truth.

We suspect our friend and Richmond County Democratic Chairman Lowell Greenbaum would vouch for that. We consider Dr. Greenbaum a friend, and would never want to do anything less than present his work in its best light. We treat everyone else the same, and we want you to know that.

Nor would we intentionally disrespect the president in such a way. As much as we oppose his policies, we think it’s crucial to retain high respect for the office of the presidency and the men (and someday women) who hold it.

We aim to give our letter writers every bit of that consideration. And, while we have regulars, we don’t play favorites.

This is your forum. Have at it. And whatever you say about us or our views, we’ll gladly – and respectfully – air yours.

Comments (101)

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karradur
2370
Points
karradur 08/16/13 - 12:51 am
6
19

This editorial is a flat-out lie.

The Chronicle has absolutely no problem with deleting online comments, sometimes in the hundreds, when the discussion gets too heated.

Anyone that spends any time regularly on the website knows this.

Riverman1
71005
Points
Riverman1 08/16/13 - 05:23 am
12
1

You Have Your Job, I Have Mine

I was watching one of those real life cop shows where they catch the bad guys. They were taking this burglar who had tried to run away to jail. The officer driving him told the guy he had given them a good chase. The crook said, “Thanks, you have your job to do and I have mine.”

I’m a commenter and not a letter writer, but that’s kind of how I see the situation with the Chronicle staff and the commenters. We have different motives and goals, but we both keep the readers interested whether we’re cuffed in the back of the police car or driving in uniform.

carcraft
20896
Points
carcraft 08/16/13 - 05:37 am
8
2

I generally agree

I write letters and I have found the ACES to be exactly as described. I am a conservative but I have had comments pulled and letters not published. I don't always agree but that is my right and they don't have to publish all my letters and comments, that is their right!

nofanofobama
6195
Points
nofanofobama 08/16/13 - 06:35 am
9
1

i have had letters

i have had letters published..i have had my comments censored..i want to call stupid stupid...but try to temper my comments...its an open forum..its opinion**its as fair as it can be***

soapy_725
43306
Points
soapy_725 08/16/13 - 07:02 am
1
0

AC is a for profit business. Even paid for legal postings.

Unpublished

AC is a for profit business. Even paid for legal postings.

myfather15
42226
Points
myfather15 08/16/13 - 07:05 am
8
5

karradur

"The Chronicle has absolutely no problem with deleting online comments, sometimes in the hundreds, when the discussion gets too heated."

This is exactly what I'm talking about with LP's. If you don't agree with EVERYTHING they say, you're biased!! Just like with Hitler, Mousilini and many others, they would LOVE to have complete control over everything put in print!!

I'm one those the left would consider "Ultra-conservatives". Yet, I've had numerous comments removed and I've actually been BANNED from posting on here. So, how is Karradur's comment above proving this editorial to be a "flat-out lie"?

This editorial is claiming they are FAIR, not that they don't pull comments or letters to the editor. They pull comments of ALL people, when they go to far. Some I agree with, some I don't but I don't work for the AC. I believe they are pretty darn fair, the VAST majority of the time!!

myfather15
42226
Points
myfather15 08/16/13 - 07:08 am
7
1

Riverman

I've had those very conversations with someone in my back seat. When someone flees from me, I don't take it personal; actually I don't take any of this job personal. I've joked around with MANY that have fled from me. If I caught them, the public and I, both won!!

Now, If I catch them and they fight with me and punch me in the face, it's hard not to take that a little personal because it HURTS!!! :)

GnipGnop
10990
Points
GnipGnop 08/16/13 - 07:23 am
7
1

I will only make one statement to prove that this is a lie

as far as comments are pulled.....Jay Weinberger

ymnbde
7601
Points
ymnbde 08/16/13 - 07:39 am
12
3

thank you for upholding your principles

In her book "Evil Genes," Barbara Oakley writes,
"...the longer an empire is in existence, the more time the successfully sinister have to find ways to subvert the system and insert themselves into positions of power."
Many newspapers, mainly the Atlanta paper and the New York times, illustrate this.
They are no longer newspapers of record, but advocates of big all controlling government.
Fortunately for Augusta, our newspaper still adheres to the principles this country was founded upon. I hope it always does.

Riverman1
71005
Points
Riverman1 08/16/13 - 07:48 am
8
2

Weinberger thread

GGnop made a good point about the Weinberger thread. Comments were stopped on it, but the Chronicle apologized later saying after about 200 heated comments that it simply required too much manpower to monitor.

That was some incident. It's one of those stories where a follow-up should be written since the dust has settled going over the details, questions and the police actions. It was a huge story.

Bodhisattva
4982
Points
Bodhisattva 08/16/13 - 07:47 am
4
11

I doubt that the Libertarian

I doubt that the Libertarian Party (LP) would have problems with the ultra right wing Hitler and Mussolini. Both fought, arrested, and killed the socialists and communists (even though Mussolini started out espousing socialism he changed his tune quickly into a right wing fascist). The Libertarians (LP's) tend to shift their views if it favors them and tend to be white. Right up Hitler's and Mussolini's alley. Those silly right wingers.

Riverman1
71005
Points
Riverman1 08/16/13 - 07:57 am
7
3

Hitler (Sigh)

“I doubt that the Libertarian Party (LP) would have problems with the ultra right wing Hitler and Mussolini.”

It’s good you have doubts about that because it’s not true.

palmetto1008
9782
Points
palmetto1008 08/16/13 - 07:57 am
6
4

Myfather, I have nothing but

Unpublished

Myfather, I have nothing but he utmost respect for the professional standards for law enforcement that you continually and consistently espouse on here, and am convinced you walk the talk when you perform your duties. But given your fierce spite toward LPs, I'm a little concerned about me being in your back seat if you were to find out that I was one.

localguy55
4813
Points
localguy55 08/16/13 - 08:17 am
5
3

Comment pulled also

I also have had letters published and have made comments. One of my comments was pulled as being abusive to another commenter. I replied to the powers to be and made my case of my disapprovel. But this is forum is not a free for all. It is what it is. If the chronicle does not want certain letters or comments published for what ever reason, it is their paper. Do I agree, no, not when it is my words being censored. But you really must play by their rules. They own the forum.

localguy55
4813
Points
localguy55 08/16/13 - 08:29 am
8
2

Heads up Bodhisattva

Fascism / Nazism is a left wing Ideology. The dictionary definition of fascism is: “a governmental system with strong centralized power, permitting no opposition or criticism, controlling all affairs of the nation (industrial, commercial, etc.) The American College Dictionary. Research is a good thing Bodhisattva.

deestafford
18412
Points
deestafford 08/16/13 - 08:35 am
7
3

With over 27 years in the military before I retired

I traveled all over the US and to many foreign countries. During that time I read and was exposed to many newspapers and if I had to rate all of them I would put the Augusta Chronicle at the top of the list. Do I agree with all they do, including dropping some of my comments? Of course not, but overall they are very fair.

I love the back and forth banner with the commenters...even though it's beyond comprehension how some can have the opinions they do. ;)

Jon Lester
2220
Points
Jon Lester 08/16/13 - 08:36 am
8
1

Bodhisattva?

Are you generalizing an entire group?

You haven't been to reason.com much, have you?

The LP proper is what it is, but libertarian people come in all flavors, from both the right and the left. You either believe in the importance of our rights, or you don't.

seenitB4
73296
Points
seenitB4 08/16/13 - 08:45 am
6
2

We all have a job to do

Believe it or not but some posters try to entertain too.....maybe some don't like our music--jokes--political views BUT hey..... that is life.

I have learned a lot while reading posts on here...we have some smarties for sure....I will say the Augusta Chronicle is much easier to read & post on than many other papers..they could learn a lot from this site....keep on keeping on.

t3bledsoe
13398
Points
t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 09:01 am
4
11

Liberal's view

"It’s no secret we disagree with much of what President Obama does."

Much ?? I would be floored if you agreed with anything about Obama.

dstewartsr
20388
Points
dstewartsr 08/16/13 - 09:04 am
4
3

Sounds like sour grapes

... from the left. I have often asked why, if they were so vehement towards the Chronicle's editorial stance, did they not go to almost any other paper-- the Altanta Constipation or The USSA Today, come to mind whose liberal lockstep was a daily staple?

I have been a frequent letter writer to the Chronicle and aver that almost all my letters have been published unedited. Once a key line in a paragraph was omitted but was printed in a correction on the next day. Admittedly, the editors have bowlderized some of my verbiage, but I admit to being more aggressive in matters that concern me. The same is true of my postings; though I haven't been banned (yet) I maintain a file of knuckle rappings from Sean; some I agree with, some I don't. Meh. It's the price of using someone else's free press.

One more thing: In the Chronicle's defense, several years ago I wrote a letter to the editor that was ... I was to write indiscreet, but stupid describes it better, and after a call to the offices, the letter was pulled.

t3bledsoe
13398
Points
t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 09:04 am
2
3

Who has a problem ??

I wonder who's comment from yesterday caused this editorial to be written ?!

karradur
2370
Points
karradur 08/16/13 - 09:06 am
3
7

@myfather15

Remember when you edited your comment that one time when I demonstrated that you were objectively wrong?

t3bledsoe
13398
Points
t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 09:09 am
2
8

dstewartsr @ 9:04

"... from the left. I have often asked why, if they were so vehement towards the Chronicle's editorial stance, did they not go to almost any other paper-- the Altanta Constipation or The USSA Today, come to mind whose liberal lockstep was a daily staple?"

Sorry. Wrong answer !! I am almost possitive that it was somebody "FROM THE EXTREAM RIGHT" from a comment yesterday !!

pearlthesquirrel
786
Points
pearlthesquirrel 08/16/13 - 09:12 am
1
0

And your next college course is:

Unpublished

Hypocrisy 101.

Zoinks, Scooby-Doo. The last letter I had printed took 4 1/2 months to get printed...after I sent it in weekly...after they removed "my facts" I used to back up my statements...and after changing the title of my letter. And then, within 24 hours, my letter was attacked by people that didn't have to wait 4 1/2 months. Yea, fair & balanced, right. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm just about ready to breakthrough on my genetic-formula to convert all women from xx chromosomes to xxx chromosomes. The facts are true - whether or not you believe them.

harley_52
19579
Points
harley_52 08/16/13 - 09:12 am
8
3

My Experience...

...in writing about half-a-dozen LTE confirms precisely what is said in this Editorial. All of my letters have been published without any changes beyond those that related to style, not content. They are fair, above board, and eloquent. When they've suggested significant changes to my words (because of MY mistakes), they call and discuss it first.

I see many of the posts earlier on this thread mistakenly attack the Editorial because the commentor is confusing the Chronicle's policy on online comments (not addressed in this Editorial) to their policy on LTE, which is the subject the Editors have just addressed. Simply observing that fact provides one with all the proof necessary to demonstrate the foolhardiness of believing folks who are frequent online commentors actually read that about which they comment.

t3bledsoe
13398
Points
t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 09:13 am
2
4

karradur @ 12:51 AM

"
The Chronicle has absolutely no problem with deleting online comments, sometimes in the hundreds, when the discussion gets too heated.

Anyone that spends any time regularly on the website knows this."

I agree with this comment, HOWEVER, some comments; including mine; sometimes need to be deleted.

t3bledsoe
13398
Points
t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 09:19 am
1
4

Riverman1 @ 5:23 AM

"I’m a commenter and not a letter writer, but that’s kind of how I see the situation with the Chronicle staff and the commenters. We have different motives and goals, but we both keep the readers interested whether we’re cuffed in the back of the police car or driving in uniform"

I agree with this and your preference to comment, BUT some of these commenters are very "volumeous" in their comments that I will encourage EVERYBODY to write LTE's.

t3bledsoe
13398
Points
t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 09:33 am
1
2

harley_52 @ 9:12

"...in writing about half-a-dozen LTE confirms precisely what is said in this Editorial. All of my letters have been published without any changes beyond those that related to style, not content. They are fair, above board, and eloquent. When they've suggested significant changes to my words (because of MY mistakes), they call and discuss it first."

YOU SAID IT CORRECTLY !! From one LTE writer to another, "I would tell ALL commenters "it's not like pulling teeth" !! As a matter of fact, many Civics teachers encourage it !! I view it like the signers of The Declaration of Independence, "Don't hide behind anonimity if it is worth saying !!"

CobaltGeorge
139297
Points
CobaltGeorge 08/16/13 - 09:33 am
3
2

t3

Could you enlighten me as to your definition of "EXTREAM RIGHT"?

Gary Ross
3346
Points
Gary Ross 08/16/13 - 09:36 am
4
2

Very good letter!

In today's society, there are three ways to get your voice heard. One is to vote, and two is to write your Congressman. Neither one of those carry much weight. In fact, sometimes it's rather frustrating to see results turn out just the opposite of the way you passionately feel about something. The LTE is the third way to communicate, and I am very thankful that this "freedom" is still open! It also gives a good cross sectional view of what every day people are thinking. I find it more important than regular news articles, especially those in the main stream biased media! I've sent in several LTE's over the years but never had a single one published. Am I complaining? No! I'm sure they receive hundreds of letters every day and simply cannot print them all. I do, however, read what letters are printed almost daily, and really appreciate the fact that we can comment on them and vote up or down. Thank you Augusta Chronicle!!!

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