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A discussion of our Letters to the Editor policy

    We like to hear from readers. We particularly enjoy publishing well-crafted and thought-out letters to the editors. Even if you disagree with us, if your letter brings something new to the table of public discourse, we appreciate it.
    Letters with clear opinions commenting on local issues are among the most popular and powerful articles you’ll find in a weekly newspaper. This is where the public has an open venue for voicing their opinions.
    At the Progress it’s rare that we don’t publish our letters to the editor. One writer was surprised that we would run his politically conservative musings since (he assumed) all the press is liberal.
    We ran them. We also run far left-wing letters.
    Frankly, if they are talking national politics we really don’t like them. We prefer someone commenting on what’s going on in this community. A poorly-written letter reflecting something specific to Pickens County beats a finely-crafted document on any national subject any week of the year. This is what community journalism is all about and, goodness knows, there is plenty of long-winded diatribe on national politics everywhere else you look.
    When we decide what letters to run, we look at each submission individually. Since writers can address literally any subject under the sun from any point of view with any language or writing style, issuing broad rules on what we run doesn’t work. Most newspapers follow a similar letter-by-letter decision making process. If you have called our office wanting a snap decision on what we’ll run, you have likely heard us say we’ll have to see it first.
    About the only set rules we have are length. It has to be 400 words or less, baring an exception. And that exception is a letter from someone who has been the subject of a story and wants to respond. If you are writing about gun control, yes we are going to cut you off at 400 words. If you feel that we have unfairly portrayed you in the paper, then we’ll give you all the space we can within reason to respond. Similarly if you are a direct participant in a news story you may be allotted more space. If you are the person whose home burned or saw the UFO, we can bend that rule.
    The other area we steer clear of is personal issues and that includes letters about local businesses. There is simply too much liability involved. You may have gotten horrible service, but that business may say your demands were impossible; we’re not going to referee.
    We are adding a third restriction starting with our next issue – two letters per month, per person and this includes responses.
    Earlier this month, someone called to say that he would like to write on his thoughts on school budgets. We suggested that he send it as a letter to the editor since that section is just for people to sound off.
    His reply caught us off-guard -- somewhat. The potential writer wasn’t sure he “wanted to be on there with all the regular nuts.”
    It’s true that at times our letters page becomes a back and forth and almost every time this has happened it’s been a national subject that elicited the never-ending point/counterpoint. The replies tend to get nastier and nastier the longer the issue ferments.
    We’ll take this opportunity to invite people who have shied away from the letters page to give it another shot. We want this space to be as inclusive as possible on subjects that the community feels are important. While people are free to disagree with your points, we’ll see that the letters’ page maintains a civil tone.
    And for those who like to mix it up, the Progress offers a message board at that is open for more vigorous debate (though with some restrictions).
    As always, our staff is open to our readers’ opinion on any subject, e-mail our editor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 706-253-2457.



Sandra Freithoffer
+4 #1 Sandra Freithoffer 2017-07-01 14:50
[Editor's Note - one of the few restrictions we have on this board is comments on private citizens or businesses. It is simply too hard to monitor them or verify.]

I am writing to complain about the politics of animal control and some members of the police department. In the summer of 2012 [private citizen]'s dog killed 9 of my cats and I complained to animal control. All animal control did was place letters in the neighborhood mail boxes stating that Pickens County did not have a leash law but when an animal became a nuisance there must be some sort of restraint placed on said animal. The dog then killed three more of my cats in the same year and I went back to Animal Control and they did nothing. I was told to go to the sheriff's office since Animal control is under their jurisdiction. I lodged my complaint and they also did nothing. The dog has continued to come into my yard and kill my cats along with one of the neighbor's geese and one of the reasons the dog comes to my house is because he and his little gang follow the kids on their gold carts and dirt bikes. These vehicles which are not street legal and should not be allowed on the street I have also complained to the sheriff's office about but they continue to do nothing. Yesterday, Friday, June 30, 2017 three kids came to my house stating they were [private citizen] and told me their Grandmother told them to come and tell me that their dog had killed another one of my cats but they didn't see it so they did not know which one. the entire time I was talking to these kids one of them had his cell phone and just before they left he held the phone up and said, "Got it" then left. I then realized that he had been recording me the entire time. I called [private citizen], and asked that he call me and let me know which cat the dog had killed as I couldn't find two of my cats. We went to the grandmothers house and she denied sending the kids to our house but had [private citizen] on the phone which she handed to my husband who was fuming at this point. He said some not so kind things so [private citizen]hung up on him and we left. Not long after we got home [private citizen] called and told me the next time I come on his property that I need to watch myself to which I replied that he needed to keep his dogs away from my house. The cat the dogs had killed was not one of my cats but I told [private citizen] it was somebody's cat and he said, Dogs hate cats haven't you seen the cartoons. i again stated that he needs to keep his dog away from my house and hung up. This has been a feud and the authorities refuse to step in and help. I feel that because I am a mere citizen and the [private citizen] all own buisnesses in Pickens County that they are receiving special treatment by the authorities. I would like to see something done about [private citizen] dogs and the Parents dogs who continue to kill small animals in my neighborhood. The other neighbors all keep there dogs restrained.
June Newell
0 #2 June Newell 2017-07-03 18:19
I totally agree these dogs are a public nuisance and the owner should be required to keep them fenced or restrained at all times. The animal control people and the police are not doing their job. Also it sounds Lille this neighbor has threatened her, and at the vet least they should get a warning from the police. If not I would get a restraining order against them.
Kathy Erwin
-1 #3 Kathy Erwin 2017-07-04 11:01
You were threatened & you should get a restraining order against your neighbor! Animal Control needs to do their job! The County Supervisor for Pickens County needs to enforce restraining laws! Make sure your city Mayor & Councilmembers are aware of the situation. Go to your city council meetings and voice your concerns. The more they are aware, and the more community is aware, the more they will be unable to turn a blind eye!
0 #4 Neighbor 2017-07-05 10:46
With a body count of 14+ just on one property it is well past time for the authorities to take this seriously.

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