The Newport Beach Women's Democratic Club recently invited Newport Beach Independent Editor Christopher Trella and me to address its regular meeting in Corona del Mar.
The topic? How to get letters published in our respective papers.
It's a question I get a lot, so I figured the information might be useful to share with a wider audience.
Not that we have a shortage of letters. Our pages are flooded.
I appreciate that. Writing a thoughtful, provocative or insightful letter isn't easy, and it's nice to see people put their ideas — and real names — on the line in this age of shoot-from-the-hip digital anonymity.
So, if you want to write to the Daily Pilot, here are the basics of what you need to know:
• Send your letter by email (we no longer accept mailed or faxed letters) to one of two addresses: Mine is email@example.com, and the general inbox is firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Provide your full name, mailing address, phone number, email address and city of residence. We will not publish anything more than your name and town but we need the rest for verification.
• Do not sign your letter with a pseudonym like "Concerned resident" or "Anonymous." We need a name, a real one.
• Don't send more than one letter a month. We want a diversity of viewpoints.
• Keep your missives to 500 words or less. We usually don't have the space for more. We'll make exceptions, particularly when the subject matter is complex, but most of the time stop at 500. Op-ed pieces, what the Pilot calls "commentaries," can run in the 700-word range, but even with those we generally believe less is more.
• Accept that we are going to edit you for style, clarity, accuracy and space, and that we operate under strict ethical guidelines governing what we can publish. People say whatever they want on the Internet, but in screened letters, the Pilot becomes responsible for the content's accuracy, so use care in stating what you consider facts.
• We prefer that you comment on topics that have appeared in the Pilot so we can check the facts behind your opinions. Plus, that's usually the point of a letter to the editor. If you want us to publish material that isn't in response to one of our stories, or isn't easily verifiable, send links we can review to back up your assertions.
• Avoid name-calling and personal attacks. The same goes for racism, sexism, homophobia, religious stereotyping and so forth.
• That said, criticism of public policies and elected officials is allowed as part of a necessary public discourse; just don't punch below the belt.
So there's less than 500 words on getting published in the Daily Pilot. I look forward to reading your letters.