Letters to the Editor have, once again, been a large part of the discourse at Knox this year. We at TKS have been printing many letters from or on behalf of organizations most weeks, it seems. I was not aware — and I realize that is irresponsible — that most newspapers do not print letters with multiple signatures until our adviser, Tom Martin, informed me last term.
However, since I had already printed a few, I didn’t know when was the right time to finally enforce the rule. Especially since many of the letters that were signed by multiple people were in response to other letters signed by multiple people. It would be unfair to make them choose one person to sign it when others weren’t required to do so.
All that being said, TKS will now only accept letters from singular authors.
The reasoning for this is quite simple. When letters are signed by multiple people, none of them are really taking accountability for what they’re saying. Even if it was one person who wrote it, they can hide behind the other signers, or behind the name of an organization.
That isn’t to say that we want readers to bash or attack the writers of letters. We just want them to know whose opinion they’re reading and who to speak to or write to if they want to respond.
Signing multiple names on a letter makes it more of a petition than anything else. You’re signing to say you agree with it, not that you wrote it. Authorship is important; you should not be saying you wrote something if you’re really just putting your stamp of approval on it.
If you’re passionate enough about something to write into TKS about it, you should be passionate enough to sign your name to it. This is similar to how we don’t allow anonymous sources unless they would be put in danger by putting their names to their words.
You can still write a letter on behalf of an organization, but ultimately, there was probably only one sole author. For example, we will still accept letters that are signed by one person, but is followed by, “On behalf ofÉ” other people, or an organization.
Ultimately, this policy is in line with those of most newspapers. We’d like to hold ourselves to the same standards as professional journalists while still providing an appropriate space for discourse at Knox.
If you have any questions about the policy, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.