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Writers must sign letters

I need to follow up on last week’s appeal for more letters to the editor.

Monday, March 26, 2001

I need to follow up on last week’s appeal for more letters to the editor.

I should have reminded everyone that letters must be signed. We do not allow letters to appear under a pen name or pseudonym.

I felt bad about my oversight after I received a thoughtful letter to the editor from a reader from the Rock Hill School District. The letter was unsigned, and the person’s address and telephone number were not there so that we could not verify the letter. Without that information from the writer, we also could not run the letter.

The letter praised Vicki Evans, the principal at Rock Hill School No. 4. Mrs. Evans, the letter said, "is very dedicated, always putting the children first. A very considerate, understanding and caring person. This is what our children need in this day we are now living with all the violence in our schools."

According to the letter, three members of the Rock Hill School Board voted against renewing her contract.

"It’s hard for me to understand how the three members . . . because of ill feelings toward our superintendent . . . can harm our children’s future without the public’s knowledge so they can voice their support," the letter said.

As much as I want to run more letters, I believe it is important that those letters are signed – especially when they criticize the actions of an elected public official. I would hope that letter writers would be willing to step up and publicly express their opinions.

At the same time, I know and understand that some readers, including the reader from Rock Hill, would be more inclined to write letters if they could be guaranteed anonymity. I’ve talked with many individuals who say they would express their opinion in a letter to the editor, but they are afraid of retaliation against themselves or members of their family.

While I don’t want to be the cause of retribution being taken against individuals or their families because they have expressed their views in a letter to the editor, I still feel that the newspaper cannot run a letter without a name on it. In rare instances, I would withhold the name if the reasons were compelling, but I would have to talk with the writer before making a decision.

I again urge readers to use the letters space to comment on the issues and problems facing our community. But please include your name, address and telephone number so we can verify your letter.