I would like more company on the Los Banos Enterprise opinion page, so I’m suggesting readers of this newspaper write more letters to the editor.
I enjoy opening the page on which my column is printed and seeing other opinions besides mine. It’s not that I don’t think my opinions are good (they are); it’s just that it gets a little lonely when I’m the only person with an opinion.
Opinions are important. The exchange of viewpoints is what makes our democracy lively and strong.
My guess is that most people who read the Enterprise have opinions. They just need to take the time to write them down and send them in.
The chances are good if a person submits a letter to the editor it will get printed. The editor of the opinion page, for the Enterprise and two other McClatchy newspapers, is Mike Dunbar. (Rob Parsons edits the rest of the Enterprise.)
Mike is no youngster. He’s not as old as I am, but he’s put many, many years of work into journalism. He even remembers when the Opinion page was called the Editorial page. He’s seen a lot of letters to the editor in his time, and he, as I, would like to see more.
Every week on the Enterprise opinion page, Mike has a place where he says, quite emphatically, “WE WANT YOUR LETTERS.” He prints that sentence in all caps to show he really means it. All letters are posted on the Enterprise website, giving writers even wider exposure and more readers.
It’s not that hard to write a letter to the editor. It doesn’t have to be long; in fact, the Enterprise prefers letters letters to be 200 words or less. That’s less space than the Enterprise allows for a column, but some of the best letters are the shortest.
The only guidance presented in the invitation is that letters “should be on topics of general, local interest.” That leaves the door wide open to write about almost anything: city government issues, schools, gratitude to some resident who deserves recognition, and so on and so forth. But letters on national or global topics are not rejected.
Over the past few years there have a few people who, thankfully, write frequent letters – including David Silva and his wife Rita and Carmelo Spada. I don’t always agree with David or Carmelo or Ruth, but I appreciate seeing their letters. They usually encourage me to ponder, react or reflect. I would just like to see more people join them. If you’ve missed them, the Silvas and Carmelo have 12 letters between still available on the website.
In fact, I’d love to see so many letters to the editor that they would take up the rest of the page on which my column appears. Otherwise, miscellaneous news stories occupy that space. Not only ago, directly under my column was a story about a nude man arrested in Fresno (I forget exactly why he was arrested).
Now I have nothing against nude people, unless they’re unclothed in inappropriate places, as the gentleman in the story apparently was. But, frankly, I’d like to see other kinds of articles near me on the opinion page, like letters to the editor.
It doesn’t take much to write a good letter to the editor. Simply state an opinion and a good reason or two support it. This kind of communication happens every day in coffee shops all around Los Banos; opinions are being shared and debated daily, and not necessarily just by grumpy old men. People simply need to put these opinions in writing.
We all prefer to read letters that have been written in a civil tone, without calling anyone nasty names. Along with the need for more opinions, our society needs more civility.
Not every letter submitted ends up being published. As the invitation states, “Letters are published at the discretion of the editor.” Letters that are libelous – falsely accusing others of a crime or bad behavior – won’t be published. But writers can take comfort in knowing Editor Mike will do his best to publish just about every letter he gets, because that’s what old-time journalists do.
It’s easy to submit. Writers can mail it, drop it off or email it. There three ways to submit letters, all printed each week on the Opinions page.
What do you say, readers? Give it a try. Write a letter. Mike and I and many others would love to read what you have to say.
John Spevak is a resident of Los Banos; he wrote this for the Los Banos Enterprise. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.