The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

Choose your words carefully, use constructive criticism


Last updated 5/2/2013 at Noon

Question the actions of local government as often as you like. Elected leaders and publicly funded administrators should not be allowed to operate without oversight.

The beauty of the system in Washington is that government must be transparent and accountable as established by state law and repeatedly supported by judges in Washington courts.

The public records laws and the Open Public Meeting Act provide certain assurances that the public will be allowed to monitor elected officials and public entities. This is needed and valuable to maintaining an open and fair government.

Leadership should be poised and ready to answer tough questions when they are acting on behalf of citizens. They should be reminded that we are watching and that we expect them to be open, honest and to take responsibility for their actions and decisions.

All of us are assured by the state, as monitored by the Washington State Auditor’s Office, that government must remain open and transparent.

There is a balance to be had, however. No one should act like a bully: civic leaders and their opponents alike. In every case, those making the decisions and those questioning the decisions should maintain a high level of professionalism and decorum.

Authors of Letters to the Editor fit in here. We are increasingly disappointed by the idea that some letters deviate from the issues and become more personal.

Having read every letter that we publish, and after several weeks of consideration, here is a reminder of how The Journal sees it.

You’re welcome to write a letter about any topic positive or negative at any time (a few more positive letters would be refreshing). There’s no reason to be mean-spirited. We simply won’t publish those letters.

You can directly question the thinking and decisions of individual public officials or a specific agency. You can be adamantly opposed to a decision or action. While voicing your opinion, try to be reasonable, courteous and avoid derogatory remarks. They are unnecessary. Rather, state the issue, give your reasoning for being opposed to what has been done or proposed. Tell the readers why this decision will adversely effect you. Then, offer alternative ideas or make suggestions on how the situation can be handled better.

Please refrain from personal attacks and character assassination. It will be edited out of a letter. Or, if the entire letter is too harsh, it will not be published. We reserve the right to edit or refuse to publish all letters for space and appropriateness.

It’s also okay to disagree with letters written by other citizens. No matter how passionately you oppose another author’s opinions, stay away from making vicious, devisive comments. Those won’t make it in print. Instead, say “I disagree, and here’s why.”

Remember during election time, that you are welcome to write letters in support or opposition of a specific candidate or ballot measure. However, you can only submit one letter per month regarding a specific candidate or ballot measure. For example, when the election nears for the hospital district’s bond to construct a new hospital, a letter writer can only submit one letter per month on that topic. The main reason for this policy is due to space limitations. We do not have unlimited page space. Repeat authors will have to take a back seat in order to make room for those who seldom submit letters, but have chosen to write because they feel strongly about a specific issue.

There is absolutely no reason in any situation for abusive name calling. It will not be published. As adults, we should be able to agree to disagree without backstabbing and acting like school yard bullies. If the letters we receive are assaultive or insulting, they simply will not be printed.

Everyone is entitled to freedom of speech. Every newspaper has a Letters to the Editor policy that aims to guide writers along a path of appropriate, thought provoking content that steers clear of abusive language.

This is a community newspaper meant for all ages. The content must be considerate of others.

Terrific, powerful points of view can be expressed with well thought out sentences and paragraphs. Strongly worded opinions can challenge and inform with out damaging someone’s character.

Stand up for what you believe in. Express your disappointment when necessary. Challenge civic leaders to think about the ramifications of their decisions.

Just try to do all of that while remembering that people have feelings. No matter how much you think they don’t. No one is 10 foot tall and bullet proof.


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