We say farewell and thanks to reporter Nate Poole, who will finish up his time with the paper next week. Nate is headed back to UMaine in Orono for a position in the admissions office and to be closer to loved ones.
We appreciate Nate’s work over the last 10 months first covering Alna, (occasionally) Dresden, Edgecomb, and Whitefield, and then the Twin Villages, Bristol, South Bristol, and Monhegan. And for a time all of them, plus Waldoboro! That’s the very essence of “intrepid reporter.”
We wish Nate much happiness and success in his new position.
I now turn my attention to the editorial page.
We ran a couple of letters of a more political bent last week because we had space to run them, which is exactly what we said we would do in the letters-to-the-editor policy we shared a few weeks ago.
I received some concerns this week that suggested running such letters undermined our policy. Not so.
“We will prioritize letters that focus on Lincoln County issues, or clearly link global, national, and state issues to Lincoln County in a meaningful way. We don’t want to become our own echo chamber, so we will occasionally consider other letters, if space is available.”
Other concerns centered on the ability for follow-up letters of debate – or rather, debunk.
And that’s what makes it so very tricky. We very much want to publish letters that consider issues not just from one side or the other, but in a variety of ways. We want to give readers opportunities to respond to letters and voice their opinions as well.
But here’s the thing.
One letter from last week was 7.5 column-inches long. Response letters I received this week easily total over 50 column inches fact-checking, refuting, and just generally disagreeing.
Why does it matter?
Because we do not want to fill our editorial pages with these types of letters. I am running some – but not all – this week. I gave preference to the ones that pointed out the perception that we went against our own guidelines.
It bears repeating:
“Priority will be given to letters that consider local issues or concerns. Letters that express national and state issues should provide a link or impact to Lincoln County.”
I don’t imagine this is the last time we will revisit the letters-to-the-editor policy. I like to think of it as mostly firm but somewhat flexible guidance meant to engage the community in a shared space of issues and opinions. An area where one can share their opinion without intimidation and in a respectful and civil manner.
The bottom line is that I will use my editorial discretion in all matters related to the editorial pages. And yes, as many of you did this week, you are welcome to quibble with it.