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A question regarding "letters to the editor".

by hh / July 21, 2006 2:20 AM PDT

Do newspapers, in publishing letters to the editor, have a responsibility to correct any FACTUAL mistakes by the letter writer, or do they just pick and choose based on their editorial slant?

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No such responsibility...
by Edward ODaniel / July 21, 2006 3:17 AM PDT

as is demonstrated in their own editorials (approved by consensus of an editorial board) and the Op Ed pages.

Most letters to the editor seem to be selected based more on a topic's "popularity" than on slant although usually a slightly higher number of letters on a topic will slant in the direction of the political leaning of the editorial board.

Journalistic code of ethics requires fact checking for NEWS reports but even that has become "inconvenient" and thus has little import to most major media sources these days.

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I definitely believe they will pick and choose
by hh / July 21, 2006 8:09 AM PDT

those letters that are closer to their agenda (bias) rather than the overwhelming majority viewpoint.
e.g. say there is an op-ed piece about Iraq war which may be for or against. Say they received 100 letters to the editor and they will publish maybe 5 of them. Say of the 100 letters 80% were in aggreement and 20% opposed (to the ideas put forward in the article). What if, of the 5 letters published, 4 were picked from the 20% which to a reader may indicate the letters were 4 to 1 opposed (closer to editorial policy) rather than indicating that in fact they received more letters in support of the ideas put forward by the author.
I have asked certain newspaper editorial desks as to what criteria they consider in choosing which letters to print, and I got the usual 'no response' response.

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