The Sun Journal welcomes readers to express their views in the hope these expressions provide a forum for debate. In order to help our readers understand some of the newspaper's standard policies for our opinion page, we offer the following guidelines:
Thank you letters: We will publish thank you letters that have a public purpose; we will not publish letters that have only private purposes. For example, a writer may thank the general public for support of charitable or community causes. We will not print a letter from a writer who wants to thank a specific individual for a job well done, but we will print letters thanking good Samaritans.
Length of letters: Letters should be brief. General letters to the editor are limited to 250 words or less. In some cases even shorter letters will be edited for length if an unusually large number of letters are submitted for print, such as just before an election, in order to give more readers an opportunity to be heard. Letters that specifically endorse a candidate for public office are limited to 150 words.
Limit on number of letters: Each letter writer may have one letter printed every 30 days. We also limit the number of submissions from the same household. In the case of guest columnists, we will normally print one column every six months. Preference is given to writers in the Sun Journal circulation area.
Signatures: All letters must be signed with first and last names. A maximum of three signatures will be published per letter. In some cases, we may make a notation of the number of other signatures if there are more than three. Also, letters must include the author's hometown and a contact phone number for the author(s), for verification purposes.
Anonymous letters: Anonymous letters will not be printed, except under extraordinary circumstances, such as when the writer's life may be endangered if his or her name is known.
Declining letters: We try to publish as many letters as possible, but do occasionally decline to publish for a variety of reasons. For instance, letters that are purely religious in nature, and which more appropriately belong in a religious magazine or journal, will not be printed. Letters that argue the existence of God or that argue the legitimacy of specific religious beliefs, will be declined.
Name-calling and other forms of abrasive or abusive language can disqualify a letter.
Letters that complain about specific products, services or places of business are not printed.
Letters from inmates of local jails or state prisons in which the inmate insists upon his or her innocence, despite a conviction, will not be printed.
Likewise, letters that have to do with private legal matters, including divorce and child custody issues, will not be printed.
We do not print letters from disgruntled employees of private businesses who complain about unjust firings, or other problems.
We do not print letters accusing public or private individuals of criminal conduct. These types of complaints should be submitted to law enforcement officials instead.
Letters containing original poetry will not be printed.
We screen letters that are obviously copies of the same letter that has been signed by different people, such as during an election campaign.
We also screen letters that are lifted from the Internet or are copies of letters published in other newspapers. Letters to the Sun Journal should be expressions of the writer's opinion, not copies of opinions from other sources.
Although we welcome letters from children, we do limit the number of letters submitted to us as part of a classroom writing project.
Letters concerning pictures, stories, editorials, letters or any other published material that appeared in another newspaper will not be printed, unless the issue has assumed statewide importance.
Letters to the editor should be addressed to the editor, not to a third party. If a letter is written to a third party but otherwise fits the Sun Journal's guidelines, the letter may be edited to address the editor.
All letters must be exclusive to the Sun Journal.
We reserve the right to edit for accuracy, clarity and civility.
If citing a specific article from the Sun Journal, please include the date, edition and page number where it appeared.
And, finally, we call to confirm only the letters that we intend to publish. All letters are kept on file at the Sun Journal for one year. Occasionally, we may confirm a letter with a telephone call but upon further review decide it does not meet publication standards.
As with any guideline, there are exceptions, and the Sun Journal reserves the right to edit any letter submitted for publication. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. If readers have any questions about the Sun Journal's policies on letters, they are welcome to contact Judy Meyer, managing editor/days, at 689-2902 or 1-800-482-0759, ext. 2302.
Op-eds (guest columns): The Sun Journal welcomes readers to submit op-ed columns. Op-eds are limited to 750-800 words. Writers should display an authoritative knowledge on the subject on which they are commenting. Op-eds must be exclusive to the Sun Journal for publication. Writers are restricted to one published op-ed every six months.
Rebuttals: Writers are encouraged to respond to letters to the editor, editorials and op-ed columns that appear in the Sun Journal. Rebuttals to editorials and op-ed columns are limited to 450 words and must be submitted within two weeks of its source's publication. Letter responses follow the guidelines applicable to all letters. The original letter writer may then submit one immediate response to that rebuttal.