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A letter, and some disclosure

July 1, 2014 - Deb Gau
First off: it’s been a very long time. My apologies on letting this blog lapse (if many people were reading it in the first place. I’m not sure about that). While this particular post isn’t an especially light or entertaining one, I hope to get back in the habit of blogging regularly.

On to what I wanted to say. I’ve noticed one of the online comments on a letter to the editor printed July 1 (“Library proud of its collection, service to community”) speculates on whether I am related to the letter writer, and if that had something to do with the timing of its publication.

In the interest of full disclosure, the short answers are: yes, I am, and no, it did not.

Jean Gau is my mother, and she is a part-time worker at the Marshall-Lyon County Library. Our being related is the reason why I don’t use her as a source in reporting on library issues. I was also not involved with her letter to the editor, either personally or professionally. Mom mentioned to me last week that she had written a letter to the paper in response to an editorial, but I didn’t ask to see it, and she didn’t give it to me or ask me to read it.

The Independent keeps some barriers between news reporting and the opinion page. While I can’t speak for all papers, I know that’s a pretty common journalistic practice. In large city newspapers, the opinion pages are often a whole separate department from news. Letters to the Independent are submitted either to our online news desk, which is monitored by the editorial staff, or straight to our editor in chief. Unless a letter is meant as a news tip, I don’t even see it until it’s been published.

As far as the timing of the July 1 letter, it appears to have been circumstantial. I know from talking with Per Peterson and Karin Elton, the two people in our office who receive opinion letters, that my mother’s letter arrived late last week. Per said after calling to verify the letter’s authorship and fitting it into the opinion page layout and publication schedule, the letter ended up being held over the weekend. The Independent doesn’t run letters to the editor on Mondays, so Tuesday was the next available spot. Meanwhile, in that space of time the MLCL board had called for a special meeting, voted at the meeting to leave the Plum Creek Regional Library System, and I reported on it for Tuesday’s paper.

So, that’s the story of the letter as far as I know. I just hope the extra information helps clear things up a little.


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