By Shereen Siewert, Editor and Publisher
Wausau Pilot & Review
Happy Monday, readers.
It has been a few weeks since I last penned a Monday Memo for a myriad of reasons, which I won’t go into here. It has been a wild summer, hasn’t it? We’ve been blessed with some pretty decent weather in the past few weeks and I am thankful for that. It won’t be long before we’re forced back indoors by falling temperatures and – well – snow, eventually. Those of you who know me know that I am not a winter enthusiast, not by a long shot, so I’m making the most of these final days of summer.
I hope you are, too.
Lately, with the election season ramping up and the ongoing uncertainty over fall sports and instruction, we’ve published more opinion pieces than usual. Letters to the editor about issues facing central Wisconsin residents are always welcome. We have a few rules: One, you must sign your real name (yes, I’m talking to you, “Thomas Paine.”) Anonymous letters are never published. And two, you are not permitted to denigrate or slander anyone in your letters with unverified information or baseless accusations. Email your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to include your city of residence and an email or phone number for verification purposes.
This brings me to an important point I want to make. I was reading my daily email from the American Press Institute last week and was surprised to see polls that suggest that about half of Americans find it difficult to distinguish news from opinion in news media in general.
I suppose that shouldn’t have surprised me, because not a week goes by that I don’t get an angry email from a reader upset about a “story” we wrote, only to realize that what prompted that anger is a letter or opinion piece from a reader or public official.
The Toronto Star put it so well when their editorial staff said: In brief, news is defined as “verified information based in the impartial reporting of facts,” and opinion as, “articles based on personal interpretation and judgment of facts.”
The Conversation has a great piece about the history of newspapers and how opinion became separate from fact, and it’s worth a read. You can find it here.
But basically, when you’re reading a letter to the editor or an opinion piece from someone other than our editorial staff, we clearly label it with an editor’s note so you can quickly tell the difference between it and news stories. And if you ever have questions about what you’re reading, shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to respond.
As always, thanks for reading. We appreciate each and every one of you.