2018-04-19 / Views

When, and if, we should ‘clean up’ letters to editor

We’re thankful for the steady stream of letters to the editor this week, and in weeks past. We consider it part of a healthy dialog for the Leelanau Peninsula.

At the risk of opening up a can of worms, though, we have an ethical and procedural question to ask of readers.

Should we do anything to “clean up” letters that come in with grammar and spelling mistakes?

Lord knows we’ve had a few of those. Perhaps we’re better at finding the mistakes of others rather than our own.

But it’s tempting when we do find a misspelled word, especially in hand-written letters that lack the sometimes double-edged effect of spell check, to correct it.

Our unwritten policy has been simple, and maybe no change is needed. If somebody is writing a letter to thank their postal carrier for going the extra mile to deliver the mail, we’ll look for and correct errors without changing the context.

If the author wants to express an opinion on politics local or national, then the letter runs as provided. Likewise, if the intent is to call out a local official. In those cases, the ability of a letter writer to articulate with properly spelled words and full sentences becomes part of presentation.

Of course, letters have to adhere to the 300-word maximum limit. “Thank you” letters can be up to 100 words.

Does that sound fair? Unfair?

We’d like to know your thoughts. Email editor@leelanaunews.com, or talk to one of our staff writers.

And thanks for reading.

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No, let spelling and grammar

No, let spelling and grammar speak for the writer.

I once read that the third

I once read that the third greatest force on Earth; beyond gravity and love, is the compulsion to edit other people's writing. I am guilty of that myself. That said, it's 2018. There are dozens of check systems available to correct our own errors; spellcheck, online dictionaries, etc. We should assume that if someone is moved to write a message that will be read by thousands, that they will also have taken the care to address grammatical or spelling errors. When they have not, it lends the reader an inside look at the mind that the "viewpoint" is rising from. Unless the writer does catch their mistake and asks you to fix it before printing, your auto-correcting would be like the DMV photo shopping a driver's license picture because our hair is a mess. I would say you should bleep out profanity but let the rest of the message stand as is. It's a part of the true signature of the writer.

I’m of the opinion, as long

I’m of the opinion, as long as the content is not changed you should be allowed the leeway to “clean up the letter.” After all you guys are the professionals, we are mere layman. Thank you for allowing us to express our views.