Letter: Headlines set tone of letters



In my view, The Columbian’s Opinion page represents a celebration of our constitutional freedom of speech and the “Our readers’ views” segment offers a fascinating insight into our community’s heart and soul and is some of my favorite reading. As well, I’m equally fascinated by the power of the headline for the letter. This important headline should always remain true to the reader’s opinion and should neither undermine nor manipulate the letter’s context, emphasis and tone.

Granted, when it comes to reader-provided content, editors must limit length, remove profanity and libelous content, and correct obvious typographical and grammatical errors; a responsibility that must be skillfully performed to prevent skewing or censuring the letter writers’ opinions. The letter’s headline can “make or break” a reader’s letter.

The outcome could be interesting if readers were to provide a provisional title with each submission. The editorial page editor retains final control while readers privately test whether the true message of their letter is satisfied. I’m curious what headline will accompany this letter from “yours truly,” if published. Whether or not the headline is a good fit, when it comes to getting my opinion in print, I can’t find a better price per column inch.

Bruce R. Randall