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Mailbag: Heavy editing of letters diminishes viewpoints

March 07, 2014

Re. "Zucco: Why we edit your letters to the editor," (Feb. 27): At the risk of not getting another letter published in the Daily Pilot, I have some feedback for the letters editors. I am taking this risk because I strongly believe the Pilot's letter-editing process should be improved.

I personally know many of the contributors to the Pilot's Forum. Many, including myself, are long-time Costa Mesa residents who have submitted letters to the Pilot for many years. Most of these letters were published with only modest editing. We have a vested interest in the community and have used our writing skills to inform the community and to express our grievances and praise.

I also know that, with few exceptions, we submit well-written, well-researched, logical and interesting letters. Sometimes these letters are longer than 200 words, but they are longer in many cases to communicate a relatively complicated issue and in a style that the reader will remember. It seems that letters of this type are no longer appreciated by the editors because, regardless of content and quality, in their eyes they are just too long and must be extensively edited.

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Sometimes the extensive editing results in letters that are nearly incomprehensible, missing key points or have information substituted in place of the author's. The resultant letter reflects poorly on the author. I suggest that when your editors do such extensive editing, they add their names to the author's so that the readers know who contributed the editing, good or bad, but too often it is bad.

The letter editors' substitution of information is a serious concern. The source of the substituted information is not always clear, and it is not something known by the author.

For example, in my last letter, "Does culture allow rushing?" (Feb. 23), my reference to a city report was substituted with "City officials told the Daily Pilot that ..." However, I didn't know what the city officials told the Pilot.

According to Costa Mesa resident Eleanor Egan's Facebook comments, the substitution of information happened again in her recent Pilot letter, "Outsourcing can obscure transparency" (March 1).

I know that sometimes the author is involved in the editing process and this is appreciated. However, in my case, I got to approve the edited version, but then it was significantly edited further without my approval. The resulting letter was terrible.

Again, according to Egan's Facebook comments, this same thing happened to her.

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