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RAP­PA­HAN­NOCK NEWS OPIN­ION GUIDE­LINES

Rappahannock News - - Comment -

The Rap­pa­han­nock News be­lieves in Rap­pa­han­nock County. Fore­most, we be­lieve this is a unique place that should re­main so. But even the most spe­cial places are not per­fect places. For the com­mu­nity to im­prove and tackle thorny is­sues that we in­evitably face, our county needs un­bi­ased news cov­er­age and a civil di­a­logue. This news­pa­per en­deav­ors to pro­vide and con­trib­ute to both.

With the above as our man­date, we en­cour­age a vig­or­ous — but re­spect­ful — ex­change of ideas from and be­tween our read­ers. Here are some com­mon ques­tions and an­swers about opin­ion writ­ing in the Rap­pa­han­nock News.

▶ How can I ex­press an opin­ion through the news­pa­per? Read­ers can write a let­ter to the ed­i­tor or sub­mit longer opin­ion es­says. Our on­line site, rappnews.com, of­fers an op­por­tu­nity to com­ment on sto­ries. All com­ments are ap­proved by an ed­i­tor be­fore ap­pear­ing on the site in or­der to screen out vul­gar­i­ties and make sure they are rel­e­vant. You can fol­low us on Face­book (face­book.com/rap­pa­han­nock­news) and com­ment on ar­ti­cles. Oc­ca­sion­ally, we will run on­line com­ments in the print news­pa­per. ▶ How do I send a let­ter to the ed­i­tor? Via email is pre­ferred: ed­i­[email protected] Please put “let­ter to the ed­i­tor” in the sub­ject line. Let­ters can be mailed to the Rap­pa­han­nock News, Attn.: Let­ters, PO Box 59, Wash­ing­ton, VA 22747. And let­ters can be dropped off at the news­pa­per of­fice, 309 Jett St. in the Town of Wash­ing­ton.

▶ What are the guide­lines for let­ters? Please be brief: Let­ters should be 200 words or less (about three av­er­age para­graphs). Please re­spect ci­vil­ity: No ad hominem at­tacks or name call­ing. Let­ters should be about is­sues rel­e­vant to our com­mu­nity; there are many other places to dis­cuss na­tional mat­ters. Let­ters must in­clude the writer’s name, ad­dress, email ad­dress and phone num­ber (con­tact in­for­ma­tion won’t be printed). Pseu­do­nyms or un­signed let­ters will not be pub­lished. Please limit the num­ber of sign­ers on a let­ter to five. And when the writer has a per­sonal and/or fi­nan­cial in­ter­est in the is­sue they are writ­ing about, please dis­close it.

▶ How do you de­cide what let­ters to pub­lish?

We pick sub­mis­sions that we think are in­ter­est­ing and of in­ter­est to the Rap­pa­han­nock com­mu­nity. When pos­si­ble, we seek to el­e­vate let­ters that of­fer so­lu­tions, not merely re­cite or ar­gue about prob­lems.

▶ Must let­ters be ex­clu­sive to the news­pa­per?

Yes, let­ters should not be submitted to, posted on or pub­lished by other me­dia, in­clud­ing so­cial me­dia.

▶ Do you edit let­ters? We be­lieve that as much as pos­si­ble let­ters should re­tain the voice of the writer. So, when we feel edit­ing is re­quired, usu­ally to ad­dress clar­ity or length is­sues, we ask the let­ter writer to make changes and re­sub­mit. Out of re­spect for our read­ers and the com­mu­nity, we also be­lieve per­sonal in­sults and gen­eral nas­ti­ness aren’t use­ful (so we’ll cut them). We do copy edit let­ters for spell­ing and gram­mar.

▶ What about longer opin­ion col­umns? The news­pa­per also wel­comes com­men­taries that ex­plore is­sues in more depth. The best opin­ion pieces are 600 words or less and of­fer orig­i­nal ar­gu­ments and in­for­ma­tion.

▶ Do you fact check let­ters or other pieces on

the Com­ment page? While we at­tempt to note and clar­ify bla­tant false­hoods, we don’t have the re­sources to com­pletely fact check let­ters and com­men­taries. The writer is ul­ti­mately re­spon­si­ble for the ac­cu­racy and truth­ful­ness of the con­tent of their sub­mis­sion.

▶ Whose views do edi­to­ri­als rep­re­sent?

Oc­ca­sion­ally, the news­pa­per will run un­signed edi­to­ri­als weigh­ing in on im­por­tant com­mu­nity con­cerns. Un­like other opin­ion ar­ti­cles, which rep­re­sent writ­ers’ views, edi­to­ri­als are the voice of the news­pa­per and its pub­lisher. They do not, how­ever, reflect the opin­ions of the pa­per’s ed­i­tor or news­gath­er­ing staff.

▶ Are there other ways to ex­press opin­ions to or

dis­cuss cov­er­age with the news­pa­per’s staff? The Rap­pa­han­nock News hosts “Fourth Es­tate Fri­day,” a cof­fee with read­ers that is open to all. It’s an in­for­mal gath­er­ing that ro­tates be­tween lo­cal cafes at 9 a.m. on the fi­nal Fri­day morn­ing of most months. Look for an­nounce­ments in The Rapp col­umn on page 4 of the pa­per and on­line.

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