Election letters: The Sun Journal welcomes readers to express their views in the hope these expressions provide a forum for debate. Publishing decisions are made on questions of free speech, good taste, public interest and public sensitivity.
Letters to the editor
All letters must be addressed, and written, to the editor of the Sun Journal. Letters are limited to 250 words; 150 words for letters specifically endorsing candidates for public office. All letters must include the writer’s name, town of residence and a telephone number, for confirmation purposes only. A maximum of three signatories per letter is allowed. Preference is given to letters submitted exclusively to the Sun Journal, but we will consider letters submitted concurrently to Sun Media Group newspapers in our coverage area: Rumford Falls-Times, Norway Advertiser, Bethel Citizen and the Forecaster newspapers. Households are limited to one published letter every 30 days. We reserve the right to edit for accuracy, clarity and civility. Personal complaints or attacks, poetry, plagiarized material, religious treatises or submissions from organized letter-writing campaigns will not be published. If citing a specific article from the Sun Journal, please include the date, edition, and page number where it appeared. Educational letter-writing exercises will be considered for publication based on available space. We will confirm letters we intend to publish with a telephone call. Occasionally, we may confirm a letter, but upon further review decide it fails to meet publication standards. Unpublished letters are kept for one year.
The Sun Journal welcomes readers to submit op-ed columns. Op-eds are limited to 700 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. We reserve the right to edit for accuracy, clarity, and civility.
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.
Guidelines for all submissions
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 physician 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 allowed per letter. In some cases, we may make a notation of the number of other signatures if there are more than three. 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.
Reasons for declining letters
We try to publish as many letters as possible, but do occasionally decline to publish for a variety of reasons:
- Letters that are purely religious in nature, and which more appropriately belong in a religious magazine or journal, will not be printed. Letters, for example, that argue the existence of God or that argue the legitimacy of specific religious beliefs, will be declined. We also limit the number of quotations from the Bible in each letter.
- Name-calling and other forms of abrasive or abuse 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. We do not provide a forum for defendants to rehash court cases. 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.
- And, finally, we call to confirm only the letters that we intend to publish. The letters that are not published 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.