Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Karla Pomeroy

Karla's Kolumn: Changes are coming


December 16, 2017

As an editor I love an active editorial page. I want our readers to engage and share their opinions. Usually that's a struggle in smaller papers but in Worland we have active letter writers.

I hope that continues, but going forward, starting Jan. 3 (as that is the first edition for 2018), there will be some new guidelines. You see my vision for our editorial page is that people have the opportunity to express their ideas and views on local events and issues. I want readers to be excited to see what the opinion page has to offer each day, whether that's from yours truly, from our one local columnist, our one Wyoming columnist, our nationally syndicated columnists, or from our own local readers in the Readers' Views section.

These new guidelines are not something that has happened just over the past two weeks. I've thought about changes to the letter to the editor policy since I first came to Worland almost three years ago. During the summer, however, when we spent two months going back and forth about angels and demons in the letter to the editor section of the editorial page, I began looking at some options. I realize that was a hot topic for those few writers, but I did not hear anyone else in town talking about it, so it wasn't really of local public interest.

Up until now I have had a pretty wide open letters policy, allowing any idea or topic to be written about, and allowed the topic to go on for months including the battle of beliefs in the aforementioned angels and demons.

The new guidelines are being put in place, not to censor anyone and not to limit anyone's First Amendment rights. I don't like to censor anyone. I'm a strong advocate for free speech. I've advocated for it here in this space, noting there is a reason it is the No. 1, Uno, top, amendment in our Constitution.

That said, even the Supreme Court has issued guidelines regarding the First Amendment so I figure as editor of the Northern Wyoming Daily News I can issue guidelines regarding letters to the editor in this newspaper.

Some people are not going to like the guidelines, saying they go too far, while I know others will say they are not going far enough. Some people would like me to limit who gets to write. Well, I won't say who can write or who cannot write a letter to the editor. But the guidelines do include limitation on topics and the number of letters that may be submitted.

So the guidelines are simple and straightforward.

-One letter per author, per two weeks or 10 publications. Now before you get upset, I've done my research with Wyoming newspapers and national newspapers. Not many Wyoming papers set this limit. Several national newspapers limit writers to one letter per 30 days, one even has a 60-day limit.

Why a limit? I want as many people to have an opportunity to engage in the process rather than a back and forth between two to three people. I want people to share their opinions and ideas but realize you likely won't change someone's mind. The 10-publication limit will limit the back and forth between letter writers and open up the opportunity for everyone. Or so is my hope.

There are many avenues for those who want to banter back and forth - blogs or social media, invite them for coffee, write a letter, or pick up the phone and give them a call.

-The second new guideline is that letters must pertain to something that has been published in the Northern Wyoming Daily News over the past two weeks. Again, my research shows some papers do this, others don't, some have a much tighter timeframe. This can include another letter, a news article, a column piece on the editorial page, a cartoon or comic, business story, sports story. We publish 12 pages on Tuesday and Saturday and 10 pages Wednesday through Friday. That's 54 pages to draw from.

Letters may also pertain to items of local public interest. This can be regarding upcoming events, incidents or issues that are occurring in our area that may or may not have been reported on.

-There is still the preferred 350-word limit. Still the noon deadline. The other guidelines in the policy are also still in place ... letters should be timely, brief (350 words or less) and contain no libelous statements and no hate speech. The Northern Wyoming Daily News reserves the right to EDIT OR REJECT any letter for brevity, content and/or clarity.

Letters must be directed to me, the editor, and not be directed to another writer. Again you have the opportunity to contact them directly.

Anonymous letters will never be considered for publication.

The Daily News will not publish political endorsement letters or political campaign letters or letters that single out commercial businesses for praise, thanks or criticism unless that information is related to an issue of public interest.

We offer a forum of expressions of thanks through paid advertising.

These are the new guidelines.

I welcome your opinion on them and other local issues or on issues in our publication.

Thank you to those who have and will exercise your right to free speech by expressing your opinion in the Northern Wyoming Daily News.


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