From the editor: Steamboat Pilot introduces new letters policy
September 17, 2018
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In an effort to attract additional voices to our opinion pages, the Steamboat Pilot & Today is introducing a new letters to the editor policy that we hope will encourage more people to share their views with the newspaper and the community.
The purpose of opinion content, including letters, Our View editorials, op-eds and syndicated columns, is to spark public dialogue, and in an effort to foster more robust discussion, we are changing our word limit for letters from 600 to 400 words.
Based on readership studies and our own analytics, we know people are more likely to read a letter from beginning to end if it is shorter and more concise. By tightening the word limit, we hope to attract more voices to our Viewpoints pages. We also anticipate the quality of writing will improve as people edit themselves and choose their words more wisely. Shorter letters will also allow us to get more of them in print.
We value the fact that we have readers who take the time to share their opinions with us by writing letters. It's an indication that people are engaged and interested in the stories we write and the communities we serve. And it's important that we give our readers an opportunity to express their opinions openly even when those letters are critical of the work we do. We welcome that kind of accountability, and we never censor that feedback.
As we move forward with a smaller word limit on letters, we're also asking letter writers to be more civil in their discourse and to be sure the information they are sharing is accurate. Letter writers are encouraged to keep the conversation constructive by staying on point and refraining from rhetoric, personal attacks and name-calling.
We retain the right to edit letters for spelling, grammar and clarity, and if letters exceed the 400-word limit, we'll send them back to the writer and give them the opportunity to edit down the letter.
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We will continue to give preference to local letter writers who write about issues that impact Steamboat Springs and Routt County. Our policy of running only signed letters to the editor remains in place.
Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. And if you're counting, this column comes in under our new letters' word limit at 399 words, proving it’s possible to get your point across in 400 words or less.