Letter to the Editor

Shelly Malicoat: Reader responds to Kutz, ask for clarification on letters

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Dear Editor:

This letter has two purposes. They are to answer Mr. Kutz and inquire if all writers are considered equally no matter where they live.

My husband and I have owned and operated a business in Monett since 2003 and are subscribers to this paper.

As far as Mr. Kutz’s letter a couple weeks ago, I will not use the same derogatory language toward him as he used toward those of us who voted for former President Trump.

I will state that I am not a white supremacist, racist and I do not tell “Big Lies.” Whatever else Mr. Kutz had to say was not heard because of the palpable disdain he had for those that disagree with his assessment of President Biden.

As for President Biden and whether there will be tax hikes, that actually, in one way or the other, affects all Americans, including Mr. Kutz.

I have taken a wait-and-see attitude. We will not have to wait too long considering the new president signed 30-plus executive orders in his first week. Perhaps this paper could publish a list of all of them so that your readers can see what to keep an eye on.

My daughter submitted a letter to the editor recently on this topic, at my request. Her letter was urging that we take serious our stewardship of this country and stop being sidelined by partisan politics.

Her letter was rejected because, at this time, she lives in Virginia and the editor felt it might cause more turmoil. My daughter is a military spouse. Her husband serves our country in the navy. She lived all her life in Springfield and has ties to Monett due to the fact that her father and I have a business in Monett, which her husband worked at for a while. They are considered residents of Missouri.

Mr. Kutz is from Pierce City and is now living in Virginia. So, Mr. Editor, I would ask that when you ask for letters to the editor on Facebook, could you please list the residence requirements to have your letter considered. Maybe it wasn’t her location, or a few extra words, but the fact that it was a letter urging civility and unity, not attacking a fellow American.

Shelly Malicoat

Monett business owner

Editor addresses letter requirements

Dear Shelly,

This is a first for me. I have never responded to a letter in this way, but given the reactions we’ve had on social media and your request for further information in your letter, I felt this would be appropriate.

To answer your question on residency requirements, may I run you through our process of accepting letters.

First and foremost, any letter must have a name attached to be eligible for printing. We do not print anonymous letters. Next, there must be a way to contact the writer by phone and confirm the writer. This step, which I completed for you and for Mr. Kutz when he sent his letter, ensures the writer is actually the writer and that someone has not submitted a letter in another person’s name (we also verify submitted obituaries through a funeral home in the same way, ensuring someone isn’t saying someone else has died when they have not). This may seem superfluous, but both scenarios have happened in the past.

Once confirmed, there are certain requirements that must be met, one of which is residency, or a direct connection to the area.

Living in our coverage area of Barry and Lawrence counties obviously meets the requirement. For those who do not live in our coverage area, the direct connection applies.

In Mr. Kutz’s case, he is a 1966 graduate of Pierce City High School, and he still has a vested interest in his hometown of Pierce City, which is in our coverage area, even though he lives in Virginia.

In your daughter’s case, she is a Springfield native, which is outside our coverage area, and her only connection is that her parents (you) own a business in Monett. Direct connection means she herself would have to live in our area or own the business. This is why your letter met the requirements, but hers did not.

I would like to add that her letter was beautifully written and made a strong point, one with which I personally agree. She has a bright career in journalism with how well-worded her letter was.

I considered running it anyway, but doing so would have opened up a door I fear would be too difficult to close. We have to draw the line somewhere.

I also feared many would glance at it and say, “Oh look, another Virginia person preaching at us,” and not even read the contents. And in this case, she did not have the backing of being a former resident of a town or graduate of a school we actively cover.

Length was also not an issue. Our limit is 250 words, and we try to keep most letters to that. In certain situations, like this one for example, I relax that rule. As editor, I reserve the right to do so when I feel it is needed. While your letter was more than 370 words, it addressed Mr. Kutz and myself, so I considered it a two-in-one.

Finally, while I am here, I will also address the request to print President Biden’s executive orders. Being a localized newspaper, we focus our coverage on Barry and Lawrence counties and typically steer clear of national issues unless they have a significant, extremely direct impact on our residents.

Our job is to cover news that impacts our communities most, and we will continue to strive to do our best to deliver interesting, informative and entertaining local content.

Kyle Troutman

Editor

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  • Just a thought...seems like the fact that the first writer was a paid subscriber would be the deciding factor....instead of him owning a business or 'vested interest'...that sort of harkens to just letting property owners vote or something similar.(not really, but it made me think of that:)). The fact that one person's parents live here would seem to me to make as much difference as to how much someone cares for or loves the area as having financial interest--I would think the 'subscriber' fact would be a good rule...but that is just me...either way, thanks to the editor for his explanation, by the way. And it's good to see people interested in issues--all sides, for that matter.

    -- Posted by Common Tater on Sat, Jan 30, 2021, at 7:49 PM
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