Letters can be a tough call

By Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

Sometimes newspaper editors have to make tough calls. Often, the toughest calls are with letters to the editor.

People who write letters are often moved by an issue and feel passionately about the subject on which they are writing. We get the most letters during election season, and candidates and their supporters on both sides are often unhappy when we do not publish all the letters or publish them in their entirety.

Recently we received a letter from a group of St. Thomas parishioners who, for obvious reasons, feel passionately about their church, which was forced by the Archdiocese to close last week. The writers wanted to comment on a story published in The Times on December 30, which mentioned one of the reasons for the closure of St. Thomas and St. Benedict parishes was financial concerns.

The letter was well-written, but we could not run it as is. Our policy is to limit letters to 300 words... this letter by far exceeded that limit. Second, The Times' policy is for a letter to be signed by no more than two people. This letter, though written by one person, was signed by a large group of parishioners.

The group understood and accepted our decision. They were given the opportunity to shorten the letter. After rewriting it, they decided it didn't have the impact they wanted. They were then offered the opportunity to run the letter as a paid space. Their letter appears on this page.

Some newspapers publish every letter (or most letters) that they receive in their entirety. Others pick and choose their letters, and only publish a paragraph or two that best summarizes the author's point of view. We feel that our policy on letters offers the best of both of these approaches.

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Here are some snippets from emails we have received from some of our area legislators about the work they are doing in St. Paul.

State Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan) on the subject of Budget cuts.

I've proposed to my colleagues that we not only remove this phrase from our everyday usage

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