Your voice can be part of election conversation

Series: Decision 2021 | Story 2

Today we officially kick off our coverage of the Tuesday, April 6, election for local school, village and library board members.

Like everything else that has taken place over the past 10 months or so, our coverage will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read more about how we will conduct our interviews, what kinds of stories we will write and when they will run in the editorial above.

My topic today is letters to the editor.

We typically receive more letters to the editor during the weeks preceding local elections than we do at any other time. Some - like one that ran earlier this month - are from the candidates themselves. More often they are submitted by candidates' supporters - or opponents.

Some list specific reasons why readers should or should not vote for a particular candidate, while others offer a more general assessment of his or her character and competence.

We will weigh in with our own thoughts about which individuals are best suited to serve on the boards for Hinsdale High School District 86, Community Consolidated District 181 and the Hinsdale Public Library in our March 18 endorsements.

We also hope to hear from you. And we ask that you follow a handful of basic rules.

The first is to limit the letter to 250 words (not including signature). That length allows us to run three letters to the editor each week.

We do not run anonymous letters, and writers must include their name, town of residence and a daytime phone number (for confirmation purposes only) with their submissions. We prefer writers email their letters to [email protected]. They also can mail them to The Hinsdalean, 7 W. First St., Hinsdale, IL 60521.

Writers also must provide documentation for any facts they cite that have not been published in our paper are not readily available via a Google search. For example, if a writer wants to include a quote from a board member in regard to a particular issue, the writer should identify the date of the board meeting and the point at which the statement is made in the online archived video of that meeting.

We will not run letters that contain inaccurate information or libelous statements, both for our protection and that of the writer. We recognize the line between fact and opinion can be a fine one, with subtle differences in wording creating a significantly different meaning. I personally work with writers, when necessary, to modify phrasing so that it adheres to our guidelines while still conveying the spirit of letter.

Despite claims to the contrary, we do not hold letters back because we do not agree with them. We run letters as soon as they are ready for publication, which means the writer has verified his or her identity over the phone and all factual information has been confirmed. We prioritize letters from writers who live in Hinsdale, our coverage area.

As the weeks progress, if the supply warrants, we will add extra letters pages as we get closer to the election.

We do limit submissions from frequent writers and have a policy prohibiting arguments in print (which means a writer can't respond to someone else's rebuttal of her letter).

I attended a seminar once where an esteemed editor said the job of a paper's editorial page isn't to solve all the problems in a community, it's to start a conversation.

I agree - and invite you to be a part of that conversation.

- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

Author Bio

Author photo

Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean