Mar 9, 2010

Letters to the editor: A tale of two letters

by Lee ‘Hatchet Job’ Beaumont

The opinion page of our city’s newspaper, the News & Advance, displays our country’s First Amendment rights including freedom of speech. However, in reality when readers submit letters to the editor, the News and Advance seems more like Pravda, the newspaper of the old Soviet Union.

The editorial section has a disclaimer stating letters can be edited for “language and clarity.” But from my recent personal experiences, this seems to be nothing more than a ruse to slant the content to the whims of the section editor Logan Anderson. In addition to his “editing” responsibilities, Anderson also chooses what letters are printed. A sampling of his letter selections can be seen in the weeks leading up to the Fall 2009 election when he chose to run around 40 pro-Valentine letters and only around 10 pro-Garrett letters. This created the impression most readers in the community were liberal and therefore, the more liberal leaning candidates would be seen sweeping their way into office. Could Anderson be trying to skew the public’s perception of reality?

In February, I submitted a well-researched letter about candidates concealing their true political identity. While there was some communication between Mr. Anderson and myself, I was surprised to find that he deleted more than 57 percent of the letter, changing of the tone and the content, and even finding a way to misspell a word in the process. Mr. Anderson also included my place of employment which is not common practice. Why would he so drastically edit a letter as well as list my place of employment? The N&A wrote me and said the rationale to mention my employment was because I had a “vested interest.” My response was yes I do, as a registered voter, not as an employee of Liberty. In my opinion the sole purpose of these “edits” was to personally embarrass me, and tie the university to an “anti-Democrat letter.”

Editing letters in such a severe manner is the action taken by despot governments trying to control the population through the filtering of information. You could expect to see such filtering in the former Soviet Union, China, Cuba or Venezuela, but not Lynchburg, Va.

Both letters are posted for you to read. The first letter is the one I wrote, the second is the printed version. From now on the edits for “language and clarity” made by Mr. Anderson should be termed “hatchet job,” and the disclaimer discarded. You be the judge.

Lee ‘Hatchet Job’ Beaumont
Liberty University

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