Editorial: A review of the Hood River News' letters policy

March 31, 2012

With a new political season on the horizon, and for other reasons, this is prime time to review the letters to the editor policy of the Hood River News.

At the end of 2011, we made a few adjustments to the policy, including making the policy shorter, a sort of example-setting. Since Jan. 1, we have been stringent in holding letters to (or hovering very near) that 350-word limit.

The policy reads as follows:

"Hood River News reminds letter to the editor writers that shorter is better. Concise letters are not only better-read, they are more likely to be published because limited space is available.

Almost any point can be made in 350 words or fewer, so this is set as an upper level for length.

Thank-you letters are no longer accepted, neither are unsigned letters, letters signed with fictitious signatures and copies of letters sent to public officials.

We limit letters on a subject when we feel it has been thoroughly aired, to the point of letters becoming repetitive.

Also rejected are letters that are libelous, in bad taste or personal attacks on individuals or private businesses. Writers must include addresses and telephone numbers. These are for identification purposes only, and will not be published."

Without further ado, let us stress that the prerequisites on brevity and authorship are critical points. All letters must have a verifiable name attached and no letter is published without the writer's name.

Letters to the editor are an important part of this newspaper's efforts to provide a community forum. There's a reason we head them "Our Readers Write." It's a shared experience.

Returning to the mention of the upcoming election, here is the important point: We reserve the right to winnow out letters that have clearly been stamped from the same template. Coordinated letter-writing campaigns do go on, and we respect that is part of the election process.

However, the most effective letters are those that are original and individual to the writer. Tell your fellow readers specifically why it is you vouch for your preferred candidate. Make it read as if you are the first to speak up for that person.

Political or otherwise, thank you to all put energy into sharing their views in writing. It is a time-honored tradition we are proud to continue.

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Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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