Changes coming thanks to your comments

Published 11:00 am Thursday, April 3, 2014

Display Type by Crystal Miller

The Albert Lea Tribune hosted a meeting last week at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club to gather thoughts and ideas from a few readers. A big thanks to the readers who gave up a few hours of their day and joined us to give viewpoints. Many good ideas were discussed.

We found that for many things one person liked, another disliked. The cool part was that every once in a while everyone agreed on the same things. Those are the easy changes for us.

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For example, we discovered that readers find it hard to read the paper when we print a special section that covers half of the Front Page. We found out it was hard to hold that half paper and it caused frustration. We can do better. We found better ways to share that information and we will.

The Albert Lea Tribune has about 15,000 readers every day, making it nearly impossible to get all of them together at once. Two big questions still remain. Did these 20 individuals represent a well-rounded point of view and how do find out what the other 14,980 readers want to read?

The answers are simple; we will never know what 15,000 people think without hearing from them individually. We encourage you to tell us, that is how we will know your point of view.

Whether it’s by mail, phone or email, we want to hear what you have to say. We always hope you send us something we can print, such as a letter to the editor. We understand though, sometimes you don’t want to share with everyone; simply tell us that this is just a note, not a letter to the editor.

During our Reader Advisory meeting, we also uncovered that some folks didn’t want to write a letter to the editor for fear we would reject the letter. We don’t turn away letters to the editor. We print all
letters that meet our guidelines. These guidelines are printed on this Opinions Page every day.

Some folks suggested maybe letters get rejected because local government asked us not to print them. This is not true; we do not seek input from local government on the letters you send. Government officials see your letters the same way all the other readers do, in the newspaper or on the website. They have no say. They have no prior review.

The Tribune printed an editorial last week that stated the only reasons your letter could possibly not get printed. If you missed the editorial, here is a recap of the only reasons we do not print your letters.

Often, if a letter is over the word limit, we will attempt to contact the letter writer and explain options, such as appearing as a guest column or shortening the letter. We let the writer decide if he or she wishes to shorten the letter or have us shorten it.

Some letters are sent, but we don’t receive them or we don’t notice them. Sometimes, this is because the sender didn’t send the letter to the proper email address, For example, sending them to can present problems because of the sheer volume of propaganda from organizations seeking ink sending to this email address.

There is an entire body of law on libel and defamation, and explaining it can be lengthy. Feel free to look it up. Suffice it to say, in a nutshell, the most apparent form of libel is writing that someone committed a crime when they have not been convicted. Of course we cannot print such a letter.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Crystal Miller is the publisher of the Albert Lea Tribune. She can be reached at