Your self-indulgent practice of allowing Xpress writers to swipe back at letter contributors reached a low point in your April 30 edition. A woman wrote a letter taking exception to having been tarred by a broad-brush criticism of those residents who lack “roots” [“Hardly Bewitching”], and the writer of the referenced piece was given response space to chastise the letter writer for having such a reaction.
This backtalk was gratuitously insulting to the letter writer; more important, it added nothing factual or substantive to the issue at hand. The response was simply one last opportunity for its writer to bloviate.
You promiscuously afford this opportunity to your staff writers or contributors. The purpose of letters to the editor is to give the readers a turn, and the common journalistic practice is to simply let them do so. If the letter writer’s facts are wrong or their comments are libelous or manifestly unfair, just spike the letter. Otherwise, bite your lip and take it. Failing any compelling reason to do so, it is childish to afford your own people the last word.
— Arthur Helms