The letter is connected to the column, column is connected to the opinion page…
In discussions and e-mails with readers it hits me that not everyone is in tune with the nomenclature of journalism. And that’s fine because I still get tibia, fibula and femur confused. But I doubt too many orthopedic doctors spend much time explaining to angry patients the differences between those bones. So it is that every now and then a reader will blast the Sierra Sun for an “article” that ran in the paper. I’ll run the person’s complaint through my memory bank and, more often than not, come up with a blank.”We didn’t write an article about that,” I say.”Yes you did,” says angry reader. “So-and-so, that blankety-blank, said it on Friday.” That’s when the “ah ha” moment hits. “Oh, that was a letter to the editor/My Turn guest column,” I say. “It was on the opinion page. It wasn’t an article written by our staff.””Yeah,” the reader says. “That one-sided, terribly written article. Why’d ya publish that?”That’s when I try to give a thumb-nail version of what you are about to read.As a former editor of mine once wrote, an opinion page is biased by definition. So unless a writer’s letter or guest column is filled with over-the-top vitriol or libelous statements, it will run. The piece may even be terribly written and miss the mark on some issues, but our job as a community newspaper – particularly on the opinion page – isn’t to edit discourse, it is to encourage it. And it is incredibly encouraging to see how quickly a mistatement in a letter or guest column gets corrected or clarified by another reader.This is where you come in. This page is your place to let the rest of the community know what you think. All you have to do is get your thoughts into an e-mail and shoot them off to firstname.lastname@example.org. Just keep the over-the-top, caustic and libelous statements out of it, and more often than not, we’ll run it.Remember: Article = a balanced piece written by a reporter that does not appear on the opinion page; Column, letter, My Turn, etc. = an opinion piece written by a community member or syndicated columnist that does appear on the opinion page.Now if I remember, right, the femur is the leg bone, the leg bone is connected to the hip bone, hip is connected to the… Ah, forget it…Jamie Bate is editor of the Sierra Sun. Contact him at email@example.com.
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