Do unsigned letters belong in newspaper?
Last Friday I received an email from Cops and Doughnuts essentially demanding that The CLARE COUNTY REVIEW change one of its longstanding editorial policies or they would pull all their advertising from the newspaper. The policy in questions allows unsigned Letters to the Editor to be published in the newspaper.
The “Cops” believe that anyone who won’t sign their name to their opinion doesn’t deserve to be published. A couple of recent letters have actually been very critical of the Clare police force, particularly their handling of the Scozzari shooting a few years ago. They were signed “anonymous.” The “Cops” believe they shouldn’t have been published.
I’m assuming they believe the policy is reckless. They believe anyone could write a letter with a false claim against a business or private citizen and we would likely print it. They also point out that it is the policy of many newspapers not to print unsigned letters.
As the publisher and owner of more than 30 newspapers in my career, I would disagree. I believe a newspaper should welcome input from all readers, and if a particular reader feels concerned about his or her safety and well being over what they have written, then they should be able to have it signed “anonymous” or “name withheld upon request.”
I really don’t think it is any different that the popular “Sound Off” columns that many newspapers publish, whereby readers can email or phone in anonymously and pop off about anything. The MORNING SUN publishes this type of column and it is very popular among readers. And if one were to cruise the internet, blogs and comments are everywhere without author’s names attached to them.
The “Cops” have already allegedly pulled their advertising from The SENTINEL, because they did not like some of the stories that that newspaper published. Now they have done the same with us, assuming that the economic threat (no more ads) will force us and our readers to be less critical of their real jobs as police officers.
Because the “Cops” decided to send a 4-line email, instead of a Letter to the Editor, or even a phone call, it is difficult to discern what their real objections are. I know over the years, until the satirical pieces have been written about the so-called reality show, we have published article after article praising Cops and Doughnuts. And why wouldn’t we. It has been a massive success story- one that all of us in Clare should be proud of.
All that being said, maybe it is time to change the policy. I’m asking you- OUR READERS, to help me make this decision. Please send an email- firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone 386-4414, or place your comment below this article. Let us know whether we should continue to publish anonymous letters or not.