EDITOR’S NOTE: The following editorial was first published on Nov.
13, 2002. Although some of the topics have changed, the message is as
applicable now as it was then.
It’s not often in the newspaper business that we ask something of
our readers. Through editorials we might urge a commission or council
to vote a certain way, or blast them for not doing so.
But rarely do we ask our readers to do something for us, and this
time, what we’re asking is fairly simple.
Write to us.
As of Monday, when letters to the editor were compiled for this
Community Forum page, we had exactly one usable note. One, in a town
of more than 100,000. And this is not the first time we’ve made this
plea, not even the first time this year. Back in July, we wrote an
editorial about a reader who called to complain that in the redesign
of the Burbank Leader, we’d stopped running letters on the Forum
page. Sadly, we just hadn’t had any in a while. And it’s happening
It’s not that there isn’t anything going on around town -- in the
past few issues, we’ve added question boxes to articles, trying to
solicit more response on some hot topics. For example, the
Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority announced last week that
it is not going to pursue building a new terminal. With all the
grousing that goes on at City Council meetings by gadflies and
council members themselves, you’d think someone would have an opinion
about the airport dropping its bid for a replacement terminal. But
you wouldn’t know it at the Leader office. Why? Because no one wrote
a letter, e-mailed a missive or faxed a note.
In its mission statement, the Leader promises to undertake four
major endeavors for readers and advertisers. We will be:
* A community watchdog.
* A community builder.
* A newspaper of record.
* A “town hall” for discussion of local issues and concerns.
We work every day to fulfill the first three, but the last one is
pretty much up to you, dear readers. We provide the forum, but you
have to fill it. You don’t have to be an accomplished writer to
string some words together in a coherent fashion and tell the
community what you think of issues going on in city government,
schools, business, police and fire departments, parks, animal
shelter, your neighborhood ... you name it! Be your own community
watchdog, builder or cheerleader!
And now that we’ve convinced you to settle down at the kitchen
table, or computer, or wherever you feel inspired, let us give you a
few tips on getting published. The Community Forum page is a set size
every issue (we publish on Wednesdays and Saturdays, in case you’re
new to the Leader) so the shorter your letter, the sooner its chances
of winding up in the homes of, hopefully, everyone in town. Simply
said, letters should be 350 words or less. If you have so much news
to share with the citizens of Burbank that you simply can’t keep it
short, your letter can be no longer than 700 words. That makes it a
Community Commentary submission and we will run it when space allows.
(If you write about a timely subject, it’ll get moved higher on our
Of course, we reserve the right not to publish certain letters,
namely ones that are libelous, racist, violent or otherwise obviously
And when you write -- notice we said “when,” not “if” -- that’s
how great our faith is in you -- be sure to include your full name,
city of residence and telephone number so we can confirm the receipt
of your letter. We won’t print your phone number.
So, people of Burbank, get busy! Your newspaper needs you!