Letters to the Editor FAQ
Frequently asked questions about The Columbian's opinion pages
The editorial department strives to lead discussion about community issues. Readers contribute to that discussion by submitting letters for publication.
To reach us:
We encourage readers to express their views about public issues. Letters to the editor are subject to editing for brevity. Limit letters to 200 words (100 words if endorsing or opposing a political candidate) and allow 30 days between submissions. Include name, address and daytime phone number for verification; only the name and home town will be published.
E-mail: Electronic mail is best for all submissions. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax: Our fax number: 360-735-4598
Mail: Our mail address: Letters from Readers, The Columbian, P.O. Box 180, Vancouver, WA 98666.
Why hasn't my letter been printed?
One possibility is that the letter has been accepted but, because of a backlog of letters, hasn't made it into the paper yet. The number of pending letters varies widely. It may take two days to two weeks for a letter to appear in the paper. Letters addressing a time-sensitive topic usually move ahead of the pack, as do those sent via e-mail.
Or, the letter may have been rejected. Letters aren't rejected because the editorial department disagrees with the letter writer's views or for personal reasons. Sometimes, though, letters aren't printed because they are too long or do not address a topic of public interest, or the writer failed to include a full name, address or phone number.
Why are so-and-so's letters always in the paper, while mine are never/rarely printed?
That person writes many letters, which increases the chances that one of his or her letters will be printed. No letter writers get preferential treatment.
How are letters selected for publication?
The editorial page editor selects the letters. Generally those letters likely to be printed are short, address subjects of community interest and differ with opinions or stories that have appeared in the paper.
Why do I have to sign my letter or guest opinion using my real name?
The Columbian believes that opinions aren't worth much unless those who advocate them are willing to stand publicly behind their words. We hold ourselves to the same standard: The names of the publisher, editor and editorial page editor are printed in each day's paper on the masthead, which is the box just below the editorials; a full list of editorial board members is published most days at the bottom of the editorial column.
Who has time to write?
Lots of readers think they don't. But letters don't need to be long; in fact, the shorter, the better. A couple of paragraphs, even a couple of sentences, may perfectly sum up your views on an issue. Give it a try.