Over the past couple of weeks, I and Pilot Publisher David Woronoff have fielded questions from folks about the paper’s Letters to the Editor section of the Opinion page. We’ve been asked — in ways ranging from polite to incredulous — what our standards are for publishing letters we receive.

The letters section has long been a common part of every newspaper opinion section and serves as the community’s opportunity to express opinions on issues. We try not to place too many restrictions on writers. We basically ask you to keep your thoughts to 300 words. That’s it.

Like every newspaper, The Pilot reserves the right to publish — or not publish — letters. I routinely dismiss letters that come from writers out of town writing about generic issues.

For instance, after every mass shooting, we regularly receive a number of letters from around the world about the broad issue of gun control and Second Amendment rights. Letters also roll in from around the world about abortion, President Donald Trump and similar matters. But this is a community newspaper, and we reserve our limited space for local writers.

We also don’t publish consumer disputes. If you have a complaint with a business or service provider, Letters to the Editor is not your place to resolve that dispute or “get even.” And lastly, we exercise our professional experience to prevent libel and other legal issues that could be trouble for both the writer and this newspaper. But fair comment is fair game.

Letters are submitted to us a number of ways. In the paper, we say letters can be mailed or submitted via email to letters@thepilot.com. We used to have a gmail address but have since discontinued that. If you have been using it, please use the new email address.

We also get letters submitted from our website. Under the “Opinion” section of the thepilot.com, it gives an option to send in your letter.

Lastly, David and I also get letters emailed to us directly, many times from frequent letter writers or those who know us personally. We usually get a few of those a week. Occasionally, we also get opinions from folks who don’t want to have their comments printed, and they express that. We respect that and don’t publish them.

As for the letters we get, each is edited. Some writers choose to overuse CAPITALIZATION randomly for emphasis. Please don’t. I spend more time correcting that, spelling and punctuation than anything else.

When it comes to subjects, we prefer opinions related to local matters. We are a local paper concerned with Moore County. So while we do carry others’ opinions about national politics and issues, we prioritize letters that deal with Moore County matters.

You will invariably read letters that you agree with and others that lead you to call the editor and publisher to ask what we were thinking. We strive to publish a variety of opinions — conservative, liberal and everything in between.

We do not shy away from letters that are critical of us. Newspapers might be the only business that takes negative criticism about itself and publishes it for all to see.

And while we do not necessarily encourage “bomb throwing” in letters, we also believe in a vigorous discourse of issues and don’t shy away from what seems to go as political discourse these days. What you might see as a letter that’s mean-spirited or uncivil could also be instructive in what passes these days for public commentary.

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen the substance of letters take a decidedly barbed approach, with folks sometimes committing words to paper they might not otherwise utter in person or polite company. That’s fine, but just know that if you choose that course, be prepared for responses from others taking issue with your words or opinion.

As we move into this fall’s election season, we will surely see the letters take on more of a political charge. And the next year’s presidential campaign won’t be far behind. Letters to the Editor is your forum to express your view, and we welcome all comers.

Contact editor John Nagy at (910) 693-2507 or john@thepilot.com.

(6) comments

Kent Misegades

Ultimately the owners of The Pilot can print anything they want, or not. It is a business after all. I might not agree with many of their editorials, but I applaud their giving expensive space to readers to express their opinions. And to allow others to weigh in. If you don’t like them, don’t read them. Stay civil though, otherwise most readers will just tune things out.

ken leary

"conservative, liberal and everything in between" Now that's funny.

Stephen Woodward

John Nagy penned this column because The Pilot last week assassinated my character by publishing a private email communication from me to Nagy and Publisher David Woronoff. They did so without my consent to destroy my reputation. I strongly suggest that citizens of the Sandhills submit letters to pilotletters@gmail.com. If you submit any fleeting thought or comment directly to their email addresses, these snakes and scumbags will publish your private communication to humiliate you. Woronoff & Co. will not hesitate to weaponize their little left wing, fake news rag to destroy their political foes. They are small people.

David Lambert

So, let me get this right... you are mad, not because you make hateful and repugnant comments and people call you out on them... instead you are upset because you sent an email with your actual opinion to a newspaper editor and those views were accurately published.

Essentially, you are mad because the newspaper accurately printed your actual opinion and it’s the fact that they PUBLISHED your opinion (and certainly not your opinion itself!!) that ruined your reputation.

My only suggestion is that if you have a reputation-ruining opinion— don’t send it to the newspaper...

This is especially true if you think that your opinion is so heavily regarded that a newspaper would intentionally “Weaponize” your actual opinions against you with the motive of ruining your reputation.

The point is this, it’s not the first time your published opinions have come back to cause problems. Your Instagram handle was made a rude comment to a female chef in Raleigh and her response to you went viral. WRAL did a story.

If you have no responsibility in your reputation... and its always the media’s fault for responding to what you say... don’t take the bait. Don’t send the email. Quietly sit and stew about how that Raleigh chef can have an opinion... how the nature’s own business employees can deliver great service with tattoos, and how this Robbins redneck will not allow such unwarranted and inaccurate statements about has community to go unchecked.

If you choose to share your opinion, which is your right, then you should embrace the consequences. Blaming people for amplifying your voice—a voice you clearly see worthy of a public platform—seems petty.

Mickey Brown

David Lambert, Robbins Native Son, Dad, overall pusher for Robbins ! We are proud of you . Thank you for being a voice for us. While we have had numerous challengers , obstacles and adversities over the years, you have endured to help us sustain and move forward . The Robbins “can do” spirit lives .Thank you ! Mickey R. Brown.

Chris Smithson

"John Nagy penned this column because The Pilot last week assassinated my character by publishing a private email communication from me to Nagy and Publisher David Woronoff." You're the clown who wrote it. It's bad enough you think that way, much less are dumb enough to put it in writing and send it to the newspaper. Jeez...

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