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) Add comment
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t3bledsoe
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t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 02:28 pm
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Quote from editorial

"We don’t play up one side or play down another. We don’t rig the discussion in any way."

This may be very true when it comes to LTE's, BUT YOU HAVE a long, long way before this is true about your editorials !

t3bledsoe
14290
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t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 02:37 pm
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myfather15 @ 2:24

"This was when you were accusing HA of removing a comment, which YOU said, made you look stupid."

Yes, I got what I call "A NASTY GRAM" putting me straight !! The only two times I have gotten e-mails was to ask if I really felt racist against caucasions and to "LET ME HAVE IT" about the dropped comment.

Young Fred
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Young Fred 08/16/13 - 02:38 pm
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2
t3bledsoe

"DO YOU ever think that conservatives will believe liberals have a say also ?? If we didn't have a say, ESPECIALLY ME, there would be NO NEED for this comments section !! I wonder if Dr. Greenbaum ever considered coming on this comments board ??"

Where the heck did that come from? I think you're projecting. It's the left that consistently tries to shut up and shut down those with whom they disagree.

t3bledsoe
14290
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t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 02:46 pm
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Project Jackson

Does anyone have any comment about Project Jackson in North Augusta ?? The school board must have been DRINKING THE COOLAID when they voted 7 to 2 in favor of backing this boondoggle !! The school district can't even afford to keep the school buildings in good physical shape, let alone build new schools !! I HOPE these CHOICE 7 school board members sleep good at night !! ( NOT )

t3bledsoe
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t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 02:50 pm
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OWS

Does anyone, besides me, believe The Occupy Wall Street movement did not last long enough ?

t3bledsoe
14290
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t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 02:58 pm
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"Chumming" the water

Well, I guess we have depleated our comments about this editorial. Let's see if we can go to some of the old stand-bys:

Gun control, politics ( BESIDES THE SCANDLES ), infrastructure, fast-tracking citizenship, hard working illegals vs. people on government assisitence, and commenters that will not write LTE'S even when they are passionate about something.

faithson
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faithson 08/16/13 - 03:01 pm
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good point Riverman

must admit, haven't seen much from the other side when I tune in... just some middle of the road lackey's every once in a while.

t3bledsoe
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t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 03:03 pm
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Young Fred @ 2:38

"Where the heck did that come from? I think you're projecting. It's the left that consistently tries to shut up and shut down those with whom they disagree."

IF I believed this, "I would not be a liberal any more !" Maybe it is just the ultra-conservatives that would "GAG" us if they could !!

myfather15
55725
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myfather15 08/16/13 - 03:09 pm
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2
OWS

It lasted FAR too long, in my opinion!! I believe the US had enough of "dumping" on cars. Those people were pure NASTY!! I dealt with a few of them in this area, that were headed for Washington; they STUNK!! Hadn't bathed in a week!!

These guys didn't have a car and were bumming rides to Washington, but they had laptops and smart phones. They were sitting at a local convenience store, using the Wi-Fi. Customers complained, so the store called us and asked that they be removed from the property because they hadn't bought anything (weren't customers). One of the guys had a "Faux news" and an "F-ing idiot news" pin on his shirt.

We actually had a little resistance from them when we told them to leave. They told us we were violating their rights, and we would hear from their attorneys. So, they don't have vehicles, but have lawyers on retainer? Anyway, at first they refused to leave, saying it was public property. We told them it was private property and the OWNER requested us make them leave, we didn't decide this on our own. We told them since they weren't customers, they had to leave. One said he would buy a pack of gum and that would make him a customer, then we couldn't make him leave. I went in and spoke with the owner and asked him if that would be ok and he said, "No, I'm not selling anything to them, just tell them to leave." So it was the owners decision; not mine. They then left, calling us names while walking away. I believe I heard something about pigs and swine with a few oinks in there, with a few profanities, but there wasn't any harm.

t3bledsoe
14290
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t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 03:10 pm
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So about gun control

Do you really think that any and every one should be allowed to carry a gun, or just the militia ( like the armed forces and police ). Isn't England like this ?

harley_52
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harley_52 08/16/13 - 03:13 pm
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"What's the Difference?"

There are at least two major differences I can think of....

First, the LOE are printed, published, and distributed to all AC subscribers, vending machines, and appear in the Editorial section online. The comments we make online are visible only to the relatively small number of people that view the online comments.

Second, the Editorial Department is not the same as the Customer Service Department. Different Chronicle Staff responsible for what is produced for customer viewing.

t3bledsoe
14290
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t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 03:16 pm
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myfather15 @ 3:09

"They then left, calling us names while walking away. I believe I heard something about pigs and swine with a few oinks in there, with a few profanities, but there wasn't any harm."

Yes, even though I agreed with them, they did get roudy and unhealthy hygene.

t3bledsoe
14290
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t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 03:23 pm
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harley_52 @ 3:13

"First, the LOE are printed, published, and distributed to all AC subscribers, vending machines, and appear in the Editorial section online. The comments we make online are visible only to the relatively small number of people that view the online comments."

THIS IS A GREAT POINT !! These comments are probable seen by only a very, very small % of AC readers. If I was successful in encouraging a poster to write an LTE, shouldn't I be able to take some credit for this ??

t3bledsoe
14290
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t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 03:32 pm
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Illegals' citizenship

I believe even some rather influential Republicans are in favor of "AMNISTY". These hard workers need to be fast-tracked and given a living wage !

t3bledsoe
14290
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t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 03:43 pm
1
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Illegals vs. people on gov. assistance

This is a very difficult situation. You have illegals who are already doing these jobs at much lower wages than a living wage. You have these jobs which no American really wants to do. You have these Americans that have been on government assistance for sooo long that many of them have gotten out of physical shape too bad to do these jobs. What will the eventual solution be ??

t3bledsoe
14290
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t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 03:50 pm
1
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Infrastructure

Much of our infrastructure needs repairs and modernization. This is going to cost trillions of dollars country wide !! What is the solution ? I see no other way except to pay more taxes other than possibly greatly reduce the amount put toward deffence.

myfather15
55725
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myfather15 08/16/13 - 03:55 pm
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Tim, no one is biting on your

Tim, no one is biting on your other topics! Maybe because it's a rainy, nasty day and people aren't in the mood to argue.

jimmymac
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jimmymac 08/16/13 - 04:06 pm
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1
Comments.
Unpublished

I've had several comments removed by Sean on the comments board. I generally call a spade a spade and rarely tone down my words. So he may be looking out for some ones feelings and covering for me. Overall I feel they are very fair and I'm appreciative of the opportunity to spout off in this forum. I enjoy reading the various comments and usually start my day reading the Chronicle. Augusta is lucky to have such a forward looking newspaper in their city.

validPoint
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validPoint 08/16/13 - 04:17 pm
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All I have to say

All I have to say is someone reported one of my comments as being "possibly abusive" and I was approached on the matter. The ironic thing is I know who the individual was, but the individual does not know that I know, and I will never let that person know that I know.

However, I would like for that person to know that I hope they found satisfaction at least because all continues to be super well with me.

I have learned much from the comments made by various personalities here. Very interesting.

myfather15
55725
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myfather15 08/16/13 - 04:21 pm
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I do have a suggestion for

I do have a suggestion for the AC though. Under peoples comments, where the "flag for review" and "Ignore user" is; you could put a reply to this comment button (or whatever you call it). Then a person could reply directly to this comment and the reply placed underneath this specific comment. I comment on other sites and I like this system.

Also, do away with the anonymous thumbs! Make it like facebook, where if you scroll over the thumbs, it shows you everyone that has given the thumbs up or down.

Well, it's not like we don't already know who is giving us thumbs up and down. With the regulars on here, it's pretty obvious. But it would be nice to confirm.

myfather15
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myfather15 08/16/13 - 04:24 pm
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validpoint

I know it wasn't me, I've never reported anyone; that I can remember. It seems there might be ONE, back closer to when I first started commenting. I've got thick skin though; comments on here are not going to offend me. Get me a little steamed? Maybe, but not enough to report them.

validPoint
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validPoint 08/16/13 - 05:12 pm
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winning attitude

MyFather15 I know it wasn't you too. I too, have thick skin. Life has a way of helping determined survivors to be that way. After really giving the matter a little cosideration, I believe the indivual who reported this felt personally insulted. There was someone else who actually endorsed the comment.

Now, when I was contacted by Sean, he encouraged me to continue to post but asked me to use a different terminology due to a report made by one of the readers. This alone told me that I had done nothing wrong except crossed the path of a very vendictive personality. There is at least one in every goup, I have found. Overall, I apprecite the site, and as a basically newcomer to the community, it is good to read many of the things I have read here. After all, sometimes I just simply like to "play around with words". (LOL)

chascushman
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chascushman 08/16/13 - 05:27 pm
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"I too, have thick
Unpublished

"I too, have thick skin."
validpoint, I have been chastised by Sean a few times and I have never whined about it.

corgimom
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corgimom 08/16/13 - 05:58 pm
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"No! I'm sure they receive

"No! I'm sure they receive hundreds of letters every day and simply cannot print them all. "

Hahaha. I've had a LTE published in the AC.

validPoint
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validPoint 08/16/13 - 06:05 pm
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Whined? whats that?

What does "whined" mean? Sean never "chastised" me. He only reported a complaint and made a suggestion for improvment. To me, that was constructive. Very constructive. Now, if no suggestion for a different approach had been given, that would have given a total new definition. The definiition would be "nit picking and showing favoritism"

On second thought, if I were to assign a meaning to "whined" I would say the one who complained gave a good demonstration of the term.

corgimom
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corgimom 08/16/13 - 06:09 pm
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If a law enforcement officer

If a law enforcement officer tried to talk to me about God, I would file an official complaint, especially if I was in police custody. And it wouldn't matter if I brought it up first.

Because I would wonder what their religion is. I would wonder if that person is prejudiced against other religions, especially my particular religion, and I would wonder if that would affect anything or how the incident report was written. Because there are Muslim LEO's, and Buddhist LEO's, and Catholic, and Jehovah's Witness, and Mormon ones, and on and on and on.

If I need to talk to somebody about God, I can and I will, and it won't be a law enforcement officer. Why would I talk to a law enforcement officer about God? That's what chaplains are for.

I wouldn't call a preacher if my house got burglarized, either.

And I'm about as pro-police as you can get.

corgimom
33227
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corgimom 08/16/13 - 06:10 pm
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I just don't understand some

I just don't understand some of the guidelines that Sean uses.

Like the other day when the post went up about the girl that would sleep with anybody for drugs.

And it stayed up.

Go figure.

rmwhitley
5547
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rmwhitley 08/16/13 - 06:31 pm
0
0
I think the
Unpublished

Augusta Chronicle's policy of letters-to-the-editor is quite sensible. If I was able to write what I truly think of the heathen, low-life ,scumbag democrats and lefties, the paper would be censured by the criminally led d.o.j. and I'd be arrested for terroristic threats.

t3bledsoe
14290
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t3bledsoe 08/16/13 - 07:02 pm
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myfather15 @ 3:55

"Tim, no one is biting on your other topics! Maybe because it's a rainy, nasty day and people aren't in the mood to argue."

I can only hope that this is the reason. Some commenters have told me they don't care for my comments. I prefer to think that it is my humor they don't like. At any rate, I hope I haven't lost EVERYONE !!

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 08/16/13 - 07:05 pm
2
2
"On second thought, if I were
Unpublished

"On second thought, if I were to assign a meaning to "whined" I would say the one who complained gave a good demonstration of the term."
validPoint, I understand most liberals do not like to be criticized.

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