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New policy keeps letters to the editor local

The new year will bring some changes to the letters to the editor. Starting Jan. 1, we will only publish letters about local issues.

The letters to the editor are an important community sounding board. To that end, we want the issues discussed there to be about our community and written by our community. Submissions will only be accepted from Pacific Northwest residents or subscribers.

Does that mean we won’t accept letters about Congress, the president or the Supreme Court? No. But it does mean that those letters must be framed around how the federal government’s actions are impacting the Inland Northwest or what Washington and Idaho representatives and senators are doing.

Some won’t like this change. We hope they’ll be won over by the robust discussions about local topics. Others might see the limits as censorship — as infringing on First Amendment rights. The First Amendment protects us from government censorship; as a private business, we have a right to decide what we publish. 

Also looking ahead: 2024 will bring multiple elections. When submitting letters about our local elections, keep in mind that earlier is better. Not only is Washington a vote-by-mail state, meaning many people have voted before Election Day, but it often takes a week — sometimes longer — for a letter to go from submission to publication. Letters about election measures and candidates will not be published in the week leading up to Election Day.

And, here are some reminders about our letters policy:

• Include your real first and last name, your address and a phone number where we can reach you during the day. Only your name and city of residence will be used for publication — we use your street address and phone number as part of our verification process.

• Keep it to 250 words. Letters longer than that will be rejected.

• Letters should be original. Many candidates and organizations send out form letters than can be used by supporters. While you may agree with the content, using canned talking points doesn’t elevate our community discussion about the issues.

• Keep your facts straight. As the saying goes: You’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts. Any facts used in a letter should be verifiable — and feel free to include links when you submit your letter.

• Direct your grievances about area business to the proper channels. Letters regarding businesses will only run if they pertain to recent reporting or are a benefit to the community.

• Hate speech, racism and threats of violence will not be tolerated. 

We look forward to reading your thoughts about our community in the letters to the editor.

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