Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Your comment at a political Web site could wind up in a newspaper

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Greg Peck
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Here's fair warning to those of you who think nothing of sharing your opinions on various Web sites that lean toward one political party and its goals: You sometimes wind up unwittingly sending letters to the editor of your local newspaper when you had no such intentions.

Often, Opinion page editors notice the similarities of such e-mailed "submissions." They look the same, have the same format and tone and can come in bunches from writers within and outside our circulation area. Those characteristics tip me to the idea that the writers are sending the letters by use of some Web site with a political persuasion.

When I notice such a trend, I generally respond to those people from our circulation area with two questions: Did you intend to send us this letter, and are these your own words rather than a viewpoint written by someone else?

We tend to run the letters if the writer replies that it was intended for publication and that it includes his or her own thoughts, words and opinions.

Several such letters arrived last week. Two such senders responded to my questions that the writings were their own words and that they intended them for print. We published them.

One local woman didn't reply, and her "letter" used an unflattering term to stereotype all senior citizens. Rather than just assuming she wanted it to run and placing it on a page, on Tuesday I called the phone number the woman included. She responded that it was sent through a Democratic Web site and that she had no intentions of it being published. She said she interacts with senior citizens frequently and does not want to "start a war with them."

So that's a fair warning to you. You might want to avoid responding to such political Web sites to avoid any risk of winding up with opinions printed in your local newspaper when you didn't want them published.

Greg Peck

Last updated: 10:09 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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