Editorial, Oct, 13, 2016

Oct 13, 2016

Punk? Or Person?

Courier Publications, parent of The Republican Journal and its sister newspapers, received an unsigned handwritten letter in the U.S. mail which takes strong exception to a photograph that accompanied our Sept. 29 story on Danny Beeton Jr.’s lost battle with heroin addiction.

The picture was one of several family album photos we published to show the many moods of this young man; it differed from the others in that it showed him "flipping the double birds," probably on a night out with friends. While it wasn't the typical depiction of a beloved person who has died young, we believe his sense of humor and other qualities that family members and friends spoke of are visible in that photo.

The letter reads:

"What's wrong with your judgment in deciding to print a picture of a young punk giving the finger for all the readers of your paper to see. You have lost this reader. I will no longer be buying your rag." — Anonymous and offended.

We never aim to offend for the sake of shock value, but we believe it is important to give an honest portrayal of the subjects of our stories. In this case, the reader seems to have jumped to conclusions. We came to know Danny Beeton only through his parents, relatives and friends. The toughest part of his story was that it challenged our assumption that love and support win out over addiction. As far as we can tell, no one in Danny Beeton's family wrote him off as a "young punk." That he died anyway is the offense.

Election letters policy

Our letters pages continue to reflect strong interest in politics and the coming election, and wish to reiterate our policy.

We welcome letters to the editor endorsing candidates and discussing important issues. We do reserve the right to edit letters for clarity and libel and to reject those that do not meet our standards. The length of letters is limited, as always, to 500 words and that is important because many people are sending in letters and we want to have space for as many voices as possible.

We do not accept form letters and duplicate letters or mass-mailings. Take the time to write your thoughts in your own voice rather than simply signing on to agree to a party-produced form letter.

Candidates are allowed to write one letter to the editor and one guest column leading up to the election. As space becomes an issue, we may limit writers to one letter per author until others have had a chance to submit their letters.

In years past we have cut off letters in the last issue of The Republican Journal before the election. This year, we may accept simple endorsement letters for publication in the newspaper in the Nov. 3 issue (deadline is 10 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1), but we will reject any letters that make statements against candidates because there is no opportunity for them to correct the record or respond before the election Nov. 8.

Any letters received between 10 a.m. Nov. 1 and 3 p.m. Nov. 8 for waldo.villagesoup.com will be published online solely at the editor's discretion.

We encourage letter writers to stick to the issues and not engage in any personal attacks, even if our presidential candidates are not modeling that behavior. Questions about the letters policy may be directed to Journal Editor Stephanie Grinnell by calling 338-3333, ext. 110, or via email to sgrinnell@courierpublicationsllc.com.


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