Newspaper should be accountable, too
I appreciate Susan Duncan's column on June 7, "Sharpen wit, not words" and her invitation to submit letters to get the community dialogue rolling. I fall into what she terms an "occasional" contributor not only to the News and Tribune, but also have had the good fortune to be published in many major publications over the past forty years. I am an independent voter and will be voting for candidates in both parties in November and most of my contributions are not politically angled. I appreciate the space the News and Tribune have given to my past letters in which I focus on topics that I feel are important, timely, and in the public interest and always do so in a respectful manner. My mission is to help create a healthier and more cohesive community.
My challenge is only about half of my contributions to the News and Tribune have been published and I am not provided with any explanation why. I've never had any instance from any other publication where I've not been contacted regarding tweaking an article to fit what the publisher is looking for and I am dazzled and amazed that my local community newspaper seems to be censoring some submissions while requesting diverse viewpoints. Do you believe it would be a good idea to exercise good journalistic standards and contact contributors if their letters or articles will not be used, explain why, and create an opportunity for revision?
I searched for a mission and vision statement for the News and Tribune to no avail but guess it would say something regarding "community" which a word which derives from the Latin, commun meaning "common" plus the word unity-a common unity. Especially during these challenging months to come when political derangement syndromes are running rampant, I hope the News and Tribune will focus more on being fair and balanced, responsibly monitor letters and columns which are not respectful of others who hold opposing viewpoints, and try to publish more positive letters and columns rather than feeding readers with "emotional candy" which divides us and creates the opposite of a common unity which we need so bad. Above all, consider a dialogue with your contributors and provide feedback if an original submission is not appropriate or satisfactory. That is what publications from the Courier Journal to Muscle Magazine have done with me and I have yet to not have an article or letter published except with the News and Tribune which there have been several with no explanation.
Ultimately it is up to us, the readers, to navigate and call out the media when we believe they are being biased and selective. I delivered the News and Tribune (Then called The Evening News) as a youth and have been a lifetime reader. I have always had confidence and trust that they want to be honorable, fair, and as accurate as possible. My hope is they will not fall into weaponizing their trusted position and that they are open to being held accountable when constructive criticism is presented. Yes, I believe Ms. Duncan's goal of a (respectful) community dialogue is a good one. I'd just like to see the goal become reality. We will see if this submission is published.
— Mike Matthews, Jeffersonville
EDITOR'S NOTE: It is our practice to inform local contributors if a submission is rejected and why, so if that has not always been your experience, I apologize. Once you've submitted a letter, you should receive a call from our newsroom clerk, to verify authenticity. If you do not receive such a call, it means for whatever reason, the letter has not been received or has been inadvertently overlooked. Contributors are encouraged to follow up with the newsroom if their submission is not published within a reasonable amount of time.
Letters are rejected for very specific reasons; the primary ones are listed below. I have engaged contributors about each of them when the situations have arisen.
• Form letters in which a person only adds his/her name.
• Letters that are libelous and/or attack people.
• Letters the length of which are prohibitive to publication. The writer is given the option to shorten, and a length is suggested.
• Letters that are non-stop between two parties, discussing the same topic. We do allow: initial letter, response, rebuttal, rebuttal of rebuttal. After that, the two parties can trade letters between themselves.
• Letters that are so incoherent that we, and thus our readers, cannot make heads or tails of them.
• Letters of a specific nature (such as endorsements) submitted after a published deadline.