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Fri., April 1, 2005

Recent articles are tasteless

Question: I am becoming increasingly more disappointed in the content of your In Life and In Food sections. Your writers are sarcastic and ill-mannered. The overabundant use of sarcasm and long, drawn-out commentaries are rude and not funny at all.

My 20-something friends and I all agree that you need to find more competent writers. This is in regards to Carolyn Hax and Amanda Smith of the “Terribly boring marshmallow story.”

You can do better. My 5-year-old could write better and be more polite and funny about it. I have never written a complaint in my life, and I do believe myself and the general public are just tired of articles like this.

And please, if anything, Carolyn Hax has to be the worst one to be giving advice; she seems to be a man-hater and her advice is ill-advised. – Jill Nichols

Answer: Whew! We have not received any other complaints about the marshmallow story in the food section. It didn’t strike me as sarcastic, but I can understand how some people might think otherwise.

Food content is about as non-controversial as anything we print. In general, if we get the recipes correct, and if we make sure good nutrition is as important as good eating, we satisfy most readers. It remains one of the best read sections in the paper.

We do get complaints about Carolyn Hax from time to time. She is enormously popular with some readers and disliked by others. She’s certainly different from the Dear Abby/Ann Landers model. That’s why we rotate her with Annie’s Mailbox, one of the successor columns to the late Ann Landers. At this time, we have no plans to drop Hax. – Steve Smith, editor

‘Inappropriate rants’

Comment: Today’s (Tuesday’s) opinion pages unfortunately are again illustrative of the rants that I mentioned previously, i.e., “No better than Dr. Kevorkian.” Also, I found the cartoon very inappropriate and more appropriate for a social conservative newsletter than for the letters page of a city paper. – Bob Lutz, Spokane

Response: We try to provide a forum where many points of view receive the chance to take root. Some are more tempered than others. Some cartoons are conservative and some liberal. Ultimately the public is the best judge of which ideas should flourish and which should wither. – Doug Floyd, editorial page editor

Reply: Thanks for the response. I guess I don’t necessarily ascribe to the belief that anyone and everyone should be granted a public forum for their rants and raves. I don’t find opinions unsupported by fact worthy of public debate, but rather believe that such individuals should be allowed to rant and rave in the privacy of their own world of beliefs.

A public forum of such beliefs only give more credence to these individuals, and it’s very unlikely, based upon my experience, that such individuals would ever be willing to critically discuss the issue as you suggest might occur.

Finally, irrespective of a conservative or liberal cartoon, I believe that taste and decorum should be a qualifier of the merit of print. – Bob Lutz

How to get letters printed

Question: I am concerned about the Spokane County 4-H program and submitted a letter to the editor. When it didn’t appear in the paper I called to inquire why. I was told that there had not been an article previously printed to relate it to. Is there a way to have a letter to the editor printed without referencing a previous article? I appreciate your time in responding. – Colleen Mussetter, Cheney

Answer: The letter you submitted included some fairly strong criticism of a named individual, based on allegations of fact, which we have no way of verifying. In the absence of previous news reporting to substantiate the accusations, we believe it would be improper for us to publish them on the basis of one letter writer’s say-so. This isn’t a personal judgment, just a policy based on caution and fairness.

Consequently, while we run occasional letters about issues not in the news, we refrain from doing so when the content holds identifiable people up to public criticism. – Doug Floyd, editorial page editor

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