Dear letter writers: Lighten up

I’ve been called insensitive and lazy, the worst reporter in the world. People say I’m sensationalist, only looking for a “good story,” that I disregard the facts, don’t do research, and certainly don’t care about people’s feelings – especially those of Harrington residents.

Or at least that’s what some readers think I’m like.

As editor-in-chief of The Aquinian, everything wrong or objectionable in the paper is automatically my fault. And I’m okay with that; it comes with the job.

I’m no Walter Cronkite, but I’ve developed some tough skin during my few years as a journalist. I’ve had to. After all, when someone comments on a story online and says, “F**k you aquinian you mother f***kers,” you have to learn to brush it off, right?

***

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: The Aquinian loves getting letters to the editor.

It’s not because we like to piss people off (that’s when we get the most letters) or want to fill space in the opinion section. We actually want feedback from our readers – good and bad. After all, it’s you we think of when mapping out the front page or deciding which angle to follow for a story. So keep those letters coming.

But there’s a line.

This week I received two letters to the editor (see page 10); one regarding our sex column last week and the other commenting on a guest column written by our regular STU Dines guy Justin Brown.

The person who wrote the second letter disagreed with Justin’s piece. In fact, he had no idea why Justin wrote about “being cool” in the first place. Was it supposed to be satirical? Either way, the writer didn’t find it funny – and his original letter is foolproof.

***

Part of my role as editor is to protect my writers – in a non-maternal way, of course. The letter you see in the paper this week from Caleb Burns to Justin Brown is not the complete version.

Some may see this as censorship, but as editor I have a right to edit. Sometimes a letter has to be altered because it’s too long. But other times it’s because someone has crossed a line I don’t like to see crossed.

There’s a difference between disagreeing with an idea or opinion in the paper – of our columnists or reporters – and attacking them personally. And I don’t tolerate it when someone sends in a personal attack on a writer, especially a new one.

That’s not to say I can change the meaning of a letter (believe me, Mr. Burns’ point, which some may agree with, is still clear in the shorter version). But it does mean I can take steps so that our editorial page doesn’t descend into petty school ground bullying so common in the online world.

Don’t agree with me? Think I’m guilty of what I preach?

Send a letter.

If you have something to say about this column or anything else in the paper, email us at talkback@theaq.net.

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