Newpaper’s policy on letters, op-eds

There seems to be some confusion by members of the public regarding the Bainbridge Island Review editorial page. I want to make sure things get communicated before the general election.

Letters to the editor need to be kept to 250 words or less. You can write one letter a month on the same topic. You can write two letters a month if they are on different topics.

If a letter is too long it will be sent back to you to be cut. If you don’t want to cut it, it will run online only. The deadline is noon Tuesday.

During the primary, we received a number of letters after the deadline. Those had to run in the paper the following week, which meant many people had voted by the time they ran. To help with that, we did run those letters online before they were printed in the paper.

We also know that many groups, especially political ones, like to organize letter-writing campaigns to make it look like their candidate is super popular. This is especially something challengers to incumbents like to do. We know this. And we like to have as many different voices as possible in the paper who express a variety of opinions. So if there are too many duplicates we will hold letters for the following week, even if they are in on time. So the secret is to get them in early.

Another issue we’ve been having a problem with lately is so many people wanting to write op-eds.

First of all, op-eds are not just long letters. They are supposed to be from experts in a certain areas who not only share their opinions, but also have lots of facts to put behind what they say.

We prefer if people who want to write op-eds contact the editor first, to make sure it is something that would run. We hate for people to take the time to write a 700-word opinion piece and then have it not run.

But that could happen if it is not approved first or if we just had a similar op-ed run in recent weeks on the same topic. Again, we’re looking for varied viewpoints.

Those also are due at noon Tuesdays.

We get a tremendous number of letters written to this newspaper. We love it. We have never seen anything like it anywhere else. But there still needs to be rules that must be followed to make the system work.

Finally, just like everything else that goes in the paper, letters and op-eds are edited. We don’t change the meaning of what is being written but we do take out repetitive words and information, again to tighten up the writing so more letters can be published. Space in the newspaper is very valuable so we try to make sure everything is written as tightly as possible. And while everyone has a right to their opinion, they do not have a right to make up facts. So rumor and information we know is untrue is edited out, although, unlike Facebook, this is a slippery slope that we don’t like to go down often.

We thank you for your participation because this is what makes Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press work in our country.