The Record Pilot has had numerous inquiries in one week both on the issue of letters to the editor and on journalistic standards in reporting people's opinions. These questions came from various parties, ranging across different positions and active in different areas of the community. So, this seems like a good time to reiterate for all readers appropriate newspaper practice.
Starting this week with letters, all reputable newspapers fact-check the statements in a letter to the editor and verify that the person submitting their opinion is a real person in the community. We reject any letters that offer opinions as fact or cross the line into slander, libel or hearsay. So, it is OK to write, "I think that person is doing a bad job," or, "I think that person would do a good job." But, it is not OK to submit harmful conjecture, conspiracy theories or rumors. Also rejected are unfounded attacks that rely on figures or information that a writer has come up with on their own and are not verified or responded to by an authority. For instance, "That person is crazy," is not acceptable. Also, "That person has a record of thievery," would not work unless there is an actual criminal record on file or a documented case of stealing, etc.
The Record Pilot's publisher, Anton Community Newspapers, is an accredited member of the New York Press Association, a trade association that helps define and maintain standards. We adhere strictly to these.