I remember when I worked for the Pikeville newspaper, I used to get a bunch of “fan” mail as well. My brother Jimmy’s in-laws also lived in Pikeville, and his father-in-law used to rib me about the many letters to the editor questioning my reason for living.
Coming into this industry, a former editor of mine told me that “fan” mail is part of the game. Sometimes the “fan” mail will offer a pat on the back, but a large percentage of the time, they would be harsh and insulting.
He was right. But over the years, my skin has become thicker, and I’ve adopted a policy to read each piece of “fan” mail, analyze it and see if the person has a valid point. If he or she does, I acknowledge it, but if there is no merit, I simply let them vent.
But feedback in any form is vital for any newspaper.
Allowing an avenue for the public to voice its opinions is vital to any newspaper, and The Journal is no different.
The Code of Ethics, as prescribed by the Society of Professional Journalists, urges media outlets to provide an avenue and "Encourage the public to voice grievances against the news media."
The Journal encourages letters to the editor, and we frequently publish our policy on letters to the editor.
We recognize that the public should have the opportunity to let their voices be heard.
Unfortunately, many people choose to let their voice be heard in the form of a voicemail where they fail to leave a name or number or in the form of an anonymous letter.
Some of our rules include that:
• Letters should be no more than 300 words and must include the writer's name, address and telephone number.
• Anonymous letters will not be published. (I typically get four or five anonymous letters per month.Many times the writer makes valid points, but per our policy, the letter ends up in the recycling).
• Every letter may be edited for length, clarity and content. Any letter deemed libelous or in poor taste will not be published. (A lot of people have a hard time with this one, simply because they feel they should have the right to publish whatever they wish, not realizing that legal issues — in the form of slander and libel suits — may surface.)
The Journal provides an avenue, and we encourage our readers to take advantage.