Zucco: Why we edit your letters to the editor

We in the news business serve many masters, among them our sources, our readers and the truth.

We hold our reporters to high standards in their pursuit of facts, expecting that they will be persistent but respectful and, when writing, fair to all sides.

Things get a little more complicated when dealing with the letters to the editor and commentaries you send in for publication in the Daily Pilot, Huntington Beach Independent or Coastline Pilot.

You become the writers, and you are often impassioned. We truly appreciate hearing from you and respect the range of emotions shared on a variety of issues of public concern.

But we editors must still maintain our allegiance to truth and fairness.

This is why we reserve the right to edit submitted pieces.

Besides doing our best to check facts and ensure the fairness of submissions, we will also edit to add clarity and avoid confusion. Remember our duty to readers.

We hope that you understand this basic premise, since you too are our readers and deserve the very best we can provide.

Also, since we are not blessed with limitless space, we must often edit your letters and commentaries for length. Sometimes we must take 500 words down to 200 or less because of space constraints. And we know that bothers the authors.

But we receive more pieces than we can ever publish, and sometimes the best way to get more voices into our papers is to run segments rather than entire texts.

Our opinion pages are a public forum of sorts, but there is no inherent right of publication. We will determine if a piece would appeal to our readership and is well-reasoned and equanimous.

We aim for a civil exchange of ideas. We want our pages to be enlightening.

For the sake of illumination and balance, we will always aim to present a range of opinions.

So we urge you to keep writing. We rely on you to help expand on the news stories we work so hard to bring to you.

Readers need to hear what others in their communities think.

Contact me with questions or concerns and I will try to respond in future columns.

DEBBIE ZUCCO, who oversees letters to the editor, is the copy chief for the Daily Pilot, Coastline Pilot and Huntington Beach Independent. She can be reached at deborah.zucco@latimes.com.

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