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Editors changing the way we share readers' letters

February 01, 2007

Let us start this editorial with an apology for confusing some of our readers.

Recently, in an effort to get reader letters on to The Herald-Mail Web site as soon as possible, we began posting the letters - mostly e-mails - as soon as they arrived, provided there were no problems, legal or otherwise.

That was fine, except that some readers who saw their letters in the printed newspaper were confused about why they weren't posted on the Web site the same day.

In all likelihood, they were posted earlier, but in an effort to avoid confusion in the future, here is what we're going to do.

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As soon as possible after they arrive, letters will be posted on The Herald-Mail Web site at www.herald-mail.com, under "Latest letters, for the week of ..."

After letters appear in the printed newspaper, they will be posted on the Web site, under "Letters to the editor (for this date)"

The "Latest letters" won't be as heavily edited as those that appear in the print product, where space is limited. In some cases, where the writer of a very long letter insists that it can't be cut, we'll use an edited version in the printed newspaper and post the full version on the Web site.

None of this means that The Herald-Mail will abandon its obligation to screen letters for things such as libel, slander, inaccurate accounts of the facts and personal attacks.

It probably does mean that the "Latest letters" will be a bit longer and not edited as closely to make them conform to Associated Press "style."

What is style? It's an attempt to make writing in The Herald-Mail uniform, so that an exact address, such as 100 Summit Ave., always has "avenue" abbreviated.

Another change: Beginning today, we'll start running "Kelly's Cuts," editorial assistant Kelly Moreno's tongue-in-cheek comments on items readers call into the "Mail Call/You Said It" phone line.

If you have suggestions about how we could improve this page, please send them to Editorial Page Editor, The Herald-Mail. P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741, or you may e-mail them to opinion@herald-mail.com.

Thanks in advance for your comments.

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