Over the past year and a half the Sedona Red Rock News has begun strictly enforcing our guidelines when it comes to letters to the editor, and particularly the length requirement.
Letters are required to be 300 words or less, and if they’re longer, I send them back to the author and ask him or her to revise the letter.
Since we began enforcing the letter’s length requirement, we’ve received many requests for us to make an exception for certain letters or to use the letter as a guest perspective.
When it comes to letter length, we rarely, if ever, allow a letter over 300 words to slip through making sure we treat everyone equally. If I allow one letter to run at 400 words I have numerous other writers calling for the same favor.
We developed the length requirement to ensure any resident who wants to be heard can do so. Long letters take up more space and force us to print fewer letters.
In some cases, however, more than 300 words is needed to express an opinion or point of view on a topic that is important to the community. In those instances, we consider allowing a reader to submit a guest perspective.
Guest perspectives must first be approved by editorial staff before they will be considered for publication.
A letter over 300 words doesn’t necessarily warrant it as guest perspective.
When considering guest perspectives for publication several factors are evaluated including, but not limited to:
- The author’s expertise in the area. Is the author a current or former elected official? Does the author work in the field in question?
- Original content. Guest perspectives must offer new information and not be repetition of a previous guest perspective, staff article or column. We also require the author does not submit the piece for publication in any other venue.
- Importance to the community. The value that residents will find in obtaining the information will be considered. Guest perspectives are not meant to be thank you letters or give credit to groups or individuals. The purpose is to discuss an issue and give an opinion.
- Factual information. Documents supporting any number or statistics must be provided.
- Submission frequency. Has the author already written a guest perspective on this topic or any other topic within the last few weeks? We will not print multiple guest perspectives by a single individual within a short period of time. Editorial staff will use its discretion in determining when a reasonable amount of time has passed or whether the guest perspective is vital to public knowledge.
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