Public Editor

June 28, 2013

The Star doesn't distribute contact info of letter writers

Want to submit a letter to the Opinion section, but worried The Star will unleash angry dissenters on your inbox? Don't worry - that won't happen.

I've spoken with several callers and emailers over the past few weeks asking me to put them in touch with people who have written letters that appeared in the Opinion section.

In some cases, the readers disagreed with the letters and wanted to give the writers a piece of their mind. In one case, the person wanted to find out whether the writer was a childhood friend by the same name.

My answer is always the same: The Star's policy is not give out the contact information of anyone other than Star staff members -- period. The same goes for the subjects of news stories too, by the way.

In some instances, reporters and editors will attempt to convey messages to these private citizens, but that's always a subjective call. I wouldn't ask an editor to forward along just an objection to a published letter, for example. But that person would always be free to submit a letter of his or her own for consideration.

However, getting your letter published does sometimes open you up to unwanted attention. One recent published writer was surprised to find someone contacted her about the content of her letter. Did The Star give this person her contact info?

No -- but remember, there are lots of ways for people to look up any one of us these days. As The Star doesn't knowingly publish pseudonymous letters, sometimes writers will find that others seek them out. That's the price of the public forum on occasion (though I've never heard of any instances of any serious threats or problems).

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