Newspaper 101

Letter writers abuse Sun’s policies

On Dec. 4, I will celebrate my 25th anniversary in the newspaper business. My career has been an interesting one. One aspect of my job often bothered me, however. I often watched in dismay as editors read letters they received and laughed at most of them. They sometimes posted them for further derision or scorn. Most of the editors would throw the letters into the trash can or delete them. The “victims” in this charade would call or stop by to ask about their letters and staff would simply lie to them. 

I promised myself if I was ever in charge of a newspaper not only would I never do this to anyone, but I would open my opinion pages as a community forum. When I became co-publisher of the Alameda Sun, I was delighted to learn not only did Eric J. Kos share my idea, he had been putting it in practice for years.  

We publish letters, all of them. However, in order to continue this, we need two favors from our letter writers. Please stop writing letters that personally attack or make fun of anyone, directly or indirectly. Please do not dress your opinions as facts. If you have an opinion, state it as such. Over the last weeks, more and more letter writers are doing these things.

One recent writer attempted to share misinformation as facts, and then made fun of Doug Biggs at the Alameda Point Collaborative. A second letter writer decided to attack Vice-Mayor Malia Vella. We ran the first letter and edited it, as our policy clearly states we are allowed to do. We are not running the second letter.  

Biggs did not initiate the concept of placing services for the homeless at Crab Cove; the federal government did. The letter writer implied that Biggs should go back to Alameda Point to a place she cruelly called a “permanent shelter for 500 homeless.” Does that include the abused women at Midway Shelter?  

The second letter writer failed to remember that an investigation cleared Vella of wrongdoing. Further, Vella did not draw up former City Manager Jill Keimach’s severance agreement. City Attorney Janet Kern and Keimach’s attorneys drew that up. Vella was one of two Councilmembers who voted against it.  

Why are no letter writers after Councilmember Jim Oddie who was not cleared of wrongdoing and voted for the settlement? Why is there no criticism of the other “Yes” votes, Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and Frank Matarrese? Is it because they are people with the correct skin color?

Is everyone really welcome here?  

The Sun will no longer accept letters with personal attacks of any kind. Nor will it take on the task of fact-checking letters. If the Sun sees the need to fact-check a letter, it simply will not publish that letter.