From the Point Reyes Light: "This is Tess and David responding to Karen's (and later to Abbie Durkee's) comments. First, we would be so much happier if you came to us with your complaint before posting it on Facebook. We always welcome any and all responses to the newspaper"”our family business, our livelihood, our work in progress. We are human and make mistakes, and we care deeply about the impacts of what we do. We are not in it for the money; there is very little money in this business and, contrary to what you state, publishing inflammatory or antagonizing material is not lucrative. Quite the opposite. The paper has suffered whenever we have printed something perceived as inflammatory or antagonizing.
About your letter title: I simply did not realize that a portion of your email subject line was intended as the title. I apologize for that. (I am working these days with a 10-month-old with me full-time, and my 5-year-old with me almost all of the time; things can slip past me.) Many people who email their letters don't include titles, and I have gotten into the habit of putting place-holders above letters when I send them to David for layout. I used to write the titles myself when an author did not draft one that fit into our space constraints; now I'm out of the office most of the week and letter titles are often written by David (as in your letter). It was not his intention to write an inflammatory headline; we both agree it was not a good title (and in fact I had intended to change it, then forgot to). None of us are great headline writers; none of us jumps at the task of writing headlines. I think we both have a good dose of anxiety about it"”it's difficult to write something in a very short space that captures a story or letter. Additionally, most letters come to us in the letter-to-the-editor form that we have on our website, and there is no space to write a title there. Most newspapers write their own letter titles, and as far as I can tell almost no newspaper goes through the trouble I do to edit letters with authors and gain approval of any tweaks and edits prior to publication. Karen, you will remember that I had to substantially trim your letter to fit it in"”it was still hundreds of words beyond the standard limit"”and I got your approval and even your praise before publication. You never mentioned your title in our editing process. Still, we are going to make a very concerted effort in the future to keep letter titles that authors draft. There are times when they will need to be shortened or tweaked for space constraints, but we will take extra care to keep originals. And if any of our readers are especially concerned about their titles being printed as is, just make a note of it. Call me! Email me. I'm super available and responsive.
Finally, we take serious issue with the idea that we try to pit people against each other to try to sell more papers. There seems to be the idea among some that we are nefarious people, tapping our fingers together while we ponder evil things to write so we can make more money. Please come meet us. We try very hard to make ethical decisions about everything we write. We make mistakes, but we do not intentionally slant writing to sell a few more papers. These kinds of accusations, and the Light bashing that happens on Facebook, hurts us and our family. They cause us an immense amount of stress. Thank you for thinking twice before doing it.
To Abbie: it's true, we changed the title of your letter. It was originally titled "Two sides of a white line" and we changed it to "Speak up for safety," which we did not think was a disservice to the point of your letter, which was summed up in your last sentence as ""¦ it takes a community to create a safe environment for everyone. Join the conversation." The reason for the change was to fit the whole headline on one line so that we could fit all the letters in the paper that week. Your title was the more creative one, but we changed it for technical reasons, not to make it antagonistic, as you imply."