Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Worcester Telegram & Gazette: A generous letters-to-the-editor policy?

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette runs the following notice relative to its letters-to-the-editor policy:

We publish letters expressing all shades of opinion because we feel a special obligation to allow readers to comment on our editorials and news coverage. We invite constructive criticism and welcome suggestions. The Telegram & Gazette has a generous letters-to-the-editor policy. Most letters meeting our guidelines appear in print. These guidelines are:

We welcome letters sent to the newspaper by e-mail. To be published, such letters must have as their subject, “Letter to the Editor.” Others will not be received.

Letters must be no longer than 250 words. Letters that exceed this maximum will be returned to the writer to shorten.

We do not publish second-hand material as letters: reprints and quotations, letters written for other publications, addressed to other people or "open letters." We do not print letters that have appeared in other newspapers. In most cases, we do not publish letters from outside our circulation area. We do not publish letters considered too personal to be of general public interest. That also includes routine thank-you notes to individuals or organizations. We do not publish letters written in verse or essay form.

At times, when we believe a given topic has been exhausted, we call a halt to further comments.

We do not publish letters that we believe come under libel laws. Material can be libelous if it holds a private person or organization up to hatred, contempt, suspicion of wrongdoing, scorn or ridicule. We review letters about active court cases carefully.

We do not publish hate mail or letters that are obviously offensive to good taste. We do not publish letters that are unsigned, unverifiable or unintelligible. Political endorsements and letters concerning federal, state and municipal elections and votes have specific deadlines announced in advance.

Letters must be signed with the writer's full name. Initials and nicknames are not acceptable. Writers must include a complete home address and a handwritten signature, plus a daytime telephone number for verification purposes. We limit an individual to one published letter in two months.

On school projects, we ask that the name of the instructor be included. One letter writer may be selected to represent the class and note will give the number of letters received.

These guidelines have been crafted to given a maximum number of writers the opportunity to be represented in our letters to the editor columns.

Now my good friend JayG, a Socratic gadfly from Worcester County, submitted the following as a letter to the editor of the T&G:

Some think that Love at First Sight is primarily between a man and a woman, but I’d argue that Love at First Sight actually happens primarily in a delivery room – when parents first see their newborn child.

Eighteen year old Sycloria Williams was not expecting Love at First Sight back in 2006, when she went to abort her 23-week old fetus at the Hialeah Woman’s Health Center outside Miami. But when she delivered a live baby instead of a dead one, a baby that autopsy reports say had filled her lungs with air, Williams had a change of heart. I suppose it’s fair to call a fetus that was delivered and actually breathed a baby, not a fetus, but Williams simply called her daughter Shanice.

Owner Belkis Gonzalez saw this change of heart as bad for business, so he cut Shanice’s umbilical cord without clamping it, threw her in a biohazard bag, and tossed her out. I suppose it’s fair to call this murder, but the State of Florida has opted only to call this practicing medicine without a license.

Jay G

This was the editor's reply:

Date: Monday, March 16, 2009 6:18 AM
From: letters@telegram.com
To: jayg
Subject: Re: Letter to the Editor
Size: 7 KB

Sorry, the Telegram & Gazette cannot print a letter of such a personal issue.
Susan Mulrooney

The murder of a child is a personal issue? How so? Does Ms. Mulrooney honestly expect anyone to buy that load of bovine scatology? Bernard Goldberg was right, "..the majority of journalists in big newsrooms slant leftward in their personal politics, especially on issues like abortion, affirmative action, gay rights, and gun control; and so in their professional role they tend to assume those positions are reasonable and morally correct. Bias in the news stems from that.." (Arrogance, p. 4). Like JayG, I encountered this bias when I submitted an Op-Ed piece to the T&G several months ago relative to the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts and its decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health (see here). I received no response whatsoever (even after several queries to the appropriate editor). Obviously, when it comes to issues such as abortion, homosexuality and same-sex "marriage," the Telegram & Gazette isn't really interested in a free and open exchange of ideas. There is nothing "generous" in that newspaper's letters-to-the-editor policy or its Op-Ed policy unless you march in lockstep with its liberal ideology.

Interestingly, while the Telegram & Gazette will not publish letters that it believes "come under libel laws" and states that, "Material can be libelous if it holds a private person or organization up to hatred, contempt, suspicion of wrongdoing, scorn or ridicule," it seemingly made no attempt to hold one of its own reporters (Richard Nangle) to the same professional standards as he covered the case of Catholic activist Larry Cirignano - see here.


Anonymous said...

The T&G has no credibility as far as I'm concerned. Massresistance covered the bias regarding Cirignano at its Blog...


Anonymous said...

I stopped my subscription to the Telegram several years ago. I can get the obits online now. Who needs it.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think the price of the Telegram shot up 25 cents from 50 to 75 cents? They're not getting the revenue anymore. The paper is losing readers and I suspect advertising dollars as well. It is a useless publication at this point as far as I am concerned. It doesn't reflect the values or beliefs of my community. I say: who needs it?

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