Readers invited to be part of election conversation
Last updated 2/1/2023 at 5:36pm | View PDF
Next week we will begin our coverage of the Tuesday, April 4, election. Unlike most years, we have a single contested race to cover — the Hinsdale High School District 86 board, in which five candidates are running for three open seats.
Election season is one of my favorite times of the year. I firmly believe that helping readers learn more about the individuals who want to represent them in local government is one of the most important things community newspapers can do.
You can read more about the articles we will write and when they will run in the editorial above. Here I want to discuss letters to the editor.
We receive more letters in the weeks preceding an election than we do at any other time of year. Some write in support of a candidate, others write in opposition. Sometimes we even receive letters from the candidates themselves. Writers sometimes cite specific positions or reasons why voters should select a candidate and other times offer general assessments of character and competence.
We will publish our own opinion of the three individuals we think are best suited to serve residents of Hinsdale High School District in our March 23 issue. We also hope to hear from readers as to whom they support.
Those writing do need to follow a handful of basic rules.
The first is to limit the letter to 250 words, not including the signature. With letters at that length, we are able to run three each week.
Speaking of signatures, we do not run anonymous letters. Submissions also must include an address and daytime phone number. Neither will be published; these are for confirmation purposes only.
Any factual information cited in a letter must be supported by documentation. So, for example, if a writer cites comments a candidate made at a school board meeting, we need to know when that meeting was and the time stamp on the archived video in order to confirm it. Anything we have published in our paper or that is readily available via a Google search need not be documented.
We will not run letters that contain inaccurate information or libelous comments, both for our protection and that of the writer.
We send any letters we have concerns about to our libel attorney, who will either approve the content or suggest changes. I also will work with letter writers, if needed, to tweak the wording of a letter so it will meet our guidelines while still conveying the desired message.
Occasionally we are accused of holding letters we do not agree with. Let me assure you that is not the case. 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. Letter writers from Hinsdale, our coverage area, do receive priority.
As we get closer to the election, if we have a significant number of letters, we will add extra pages to our opinion section.
We limit submissions from frequent writers (which means, in this case, writers can submit one election-related letter) and prohibit back-and-forth debating (which means a writer can’t respond to someone else’s rebuttal of her letter).
The easiest way to get us a letter is to email it to [email protected]. They also can be sent through the mail to The Hinsdalean, 7 W. First St., Hinsdale, IL 60521.
We look forward to hearing from you.
— Pamela Lannom is editor
of The Hinsdalean. Readers
can email her at