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Canalis: How to get your letters published

May 02, 2012|By John Canalis

Why didn't you publish my letter to the editor?

This, and variants of it, is one the questions I get the most.

This question is often followed by false assumptions.

You only publish liberal letters. You only publish conservative letters.

And so on.

The truth is, I try to publish every letter I get — at least, those written by local readers. I tend to delete those that come from outside Orange County, unless the writer is a former resident who's still keeping up with hometown news.

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Our Forum page, particularly in the last year or so, has become a vibrant space where ideas from throughout the political spectrum are exchanged. If you read it daily, you'll find a diversity of viewpoints.

But time and again, I hear that we're not publishing some letters from one side of an issue or another. That strikes me as strange because we welcome all views (and, to be honest, we've got some space to fill around here).

Out of concern I looked into the issue this week. The main problem appears to be the general email box: dailypilot@latimes.com.

This is where we ask readers to send letters to the editor, but it's not a good mailbox for that purpose because we get more general email — announcements, press releases, spam — than we can ever read. Some 200 or so emails a day clog the digital pipes.

My assumption is that when we delete out the chaff (spam), some of the wheat (letters from readers) goes with it.

So today, I am going to ask readers to stop sending letters there. Instead, send letters to me and City Editor Jamie Rowe at john.canalis@latimes and jamie.rowe@latimes.com, respectively.

Put "letter to the editor" in the subject line — it's a critical way to separate your valuable comments from the less valuable spam.

Please include your city of residence and a phone number so we can verify your letter. This should ensure publication of more of the lost letters.

A couple of other reasons result in unpublished letters. Let me address those too.

An amazing number of writers forget to submit their name and contact information for verification purposes. Or they only give an email address and do not respond to our inquiries for their contact information.

Others ask to remain anonymous, and we do not publish anonymous letters. If you want that anonymity, comment online. But if you want a letter published, please include a verifiable name.

Some letters are sent to us via snail mail. I read those, but the days of small newspapers employing typists to input them are all but obsolete.

So if you don't have a computer or an email account and you want to write a letter to the editor, ask a family member or friend to email it to us on your behalf. We want your voice in print, even if you're not interested in the Internet.

And finally, if none of this seems to work, call me at the number below and I will try to find out what happened to your letter.

JOHN CANALIS is the editor of Times Community News South. He can be reached at (714) 966-4607 and john.canalis@latimes.com.

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