Opinion editor curates a lively letters page

  • Fri Apr 13th, 2012 6:48pm
  • News

Herald Staff

Sending a letter to the editor of the newspaper and seeing it in print with your name beneath it is still something special, even in the age of email, Twitter and online comments.

“Seeing your name in print, with something you’ve written, that’s important to people,” said Carol MacPherson, who works on The Daily Herald’s Opinion page, writing editorials and managing the continuous flow of letters to the editor.

The Herald prints letters to the editor every day. MacPherson generally is the editor who reads all the letters and picks which ones will appear in print.

She tries to mix the topics for a lively Opinion page. Sometimes the first one on a certain topic is the one that makes it in the paper. Sometimes it’s the one she thinks best expresses the writer’s thoughts.

Two hot-button topics have been the early-morning bugle call at the Navy base, she said, and bikini baristas. On the scantily clad baristas, opinion went both ways: “Stop the porn” vs. “live and let live.”

But letters don’t always reflect what’s in the news.

“That’s one of the good things about letters; They create their own topics,” she said. “Sometimes the letters turn into news stories.”

If you have something you want to say to the community, send it to MacPherson. You have to use your real name and include your address, but only your name and town will be printed in the paper. Keep the letter about 250 words long and MacPherson promises not to shorten it. She does reserve the right the edit it.

Send it to letters@heraldnet.com or mail to Letters section, The Herald, P.O. Box 930, Everett, 98206.

Letters never expire and are kept “forever,” stored at The Herald.

MacPherson’s favorite letters are from kids of all ages, from elementary school through high school. She said it’s heart-warming to receive a letter from a child who felt strongly enough about something to write to the newspaper.

She has one admonition for letter writers.

“Keep it civil,” she said. “We don’t want to mirror comments online. That’s why we don’t allow comments on letters.”

She loves helping people organize their thoughts in a letter.

“It’s such a cool job,” she said. “Really, it’s a privilege.”

Each week, Here at The Herald provides an inside peek at the newspaper — its people and the work they do. Is there something you would like to know? Send your idea to Executive Editor Neal Pattison, npattison@heraldnet.com.