I was greeted Monday morning upon my return to work from a glorious late-summer weekend with this voice mail message, forwarded to me from Managing Editor Jay Furst:
Mr. Furst I just read in the paper that if we have any concerns about accuracy or fairness in your paper to call you. I hope you'll understand this, but some time ago I sent in a letter to the editor about something that a writer had written a few years earlier about freedom. It was about "is there enough freedom in this country," and he was relating the fact that the wrong people have all the freedoms. I pointed this out in my letter and it never did get published. When I called to ask why I talked to Sellnow! And he said, well, it was because it was the paper's policy not to publish anything that is someone else's words.
What a creep! I don't know what's wrong with him. Since then, almost every day in the paper there's something in the paper where they are quoting somebody else. And it infuriates me that he got by with that. He should know better. Because it's true that the wrong people are getting by with their abusing our freedoms and that's what the article meant, and it's true and all of my friends believe it.
He needs to have a good talking to. All he's into is himself. Please. Say something to him!
All right, maybe I am a creep for adhering to policy regarding the reprinting of material from other writers. But just so the rest of you know, here's how we handle letters to the editor that include quotes or inscriptions:
It's OK to use a quote from someone else in a letter to the editor or column as long as you give credit where credit is due. But try to keep it to a sentence or two. We won't run a letter to the editor or column that is basically a reprint of someone else's thesis. The same is true of Biblical quotes. It's all right to use a verse or two to make a point, but we won't use a letter that is two-thirds Bible verse.
We encourage ORIGINAL thought on our editorial pages.
I'm sorry the caller despises me personally for not running her letter. But, as I recall, it was basically an introductory sentence, followed by a three-or-four paragraph quote from someone else that had been printed in another publication.