Oftentimes, the media is ridiculed. Those in power sometimes chose to blame the media for exposing corruption. Blaming the media and yelling “Fake News” when you don’t agree with someone has become commonplace. I find it interesting that when someone says “Fake News,” they actually mean they have no rebuttal for your argument and they just don’t want to evaluate the other side’s opinion.

Put that sentiment in the context of the breaking news story this week. The New York Times has produced exemplary journalism by obtaining President Donald Trump’s tax returns, sifting through them and finding that the president paid minimal taxes over several years, i.e., $750 in 2016. He actually wrote off $70,000 that he spent in hairstyling fees. Whether or not you agree with the story concerning the president’s tax payments, you can’t argue that the Times’ story is Fake News. President Trump at first tried to do so, but realized that was a losing argument, so instead, he stated the Times illegally obtained his tax returns. Kuddos to the Times for doing its job: presenting information to its readers. 

Stories such as  the one in the Times make me proud to be a member of the “Fourth Estate.” The Madison County Record last week was recognized with 23 awards from the Arkansas Press Association’s editorial contest and placed second in larger weeklies in the state for General Excellence. The Record staff works hard to bring you facts and news about your county and community. We won awards for our coverage of education, for investigative reporting, for reporting on medical issues in the county, for opinion columns and editorials, for photographs and many other categories. As proud as we are of these awards, we’re also thankful for our readers and subscribers. Thank you for taking the time to read our paper and offering us feedback. We welcome a difference of opinion. 

One of my favorite parts of a newspaper is the “Letters to the Editor” section. I especially love hearing from our readers their thoughts on county issues and government actions.

We get some readers who try to use our “Letters to the Editor” section as their pulpit, sometimes their “bully pulpit.” Recently, we turned down a letter because of inaccuracies, and the writer actually threatened our editor’s livelihood, as well as offering other incendiary remarks. Let me say that we’re not amused and don’t look favorably on those types of exchanges.

But, as the election approaches, I wanted to make clear our policies on “Letters to the Editor.”  Just this week, we have a couple of letters regarding candidates seeking office during November. We’ll print one election-letter to the editor per reader. This allows more people to express their opinion as the election approaches. 

We don’t print anonymous letters to the editor. We require first and last names. We also will not print purported facts that can’t be independently verified. Please cite a source when using facts. And because we are short-staffed and cover all area news, we will not print letters that require substantial research to verify. 

We also want to be civil in the discussion of issues, something that has grown less and less common on social media platforms. Please hold your candidates and government officials accountable for their policies and actions or lack of action, but please do so in a civil manner.  “Letters to the Editor” must be 300 words or fewer. And, if letters appear to be a part of a letter-writing campaign, in which writers discuss the same talking points, we will run only a sampling of those letters. We faced this in the 2016 election in our county. 

It’s a great time to use our paper to make our community a better, more fair and diverse county. We welcome a diversity of opinions and love to hear from you. Thank you for being our readers and our subscribers.

Ellen Kreth is publisher of the Madison County Record and can be reached at ekreth@mcrecordonline.com