The rules of engagement

Published 9:08 pm Wednesday, April 24, 2013

For many years, the Washington Daily News has asked the public to comment on whatever issues concern the good people of our community. The results at times have been thought provoking, offensive, amusing, surprising, gratuitous and genuinely relevant (and that’s just talking about any given day’s calls).

But over the past little while, we’ve noticed that our Sound Off calls are getting a bit long-winded. Instead of four Sound Off calls, there’s only room to print one in the paper; instead of several residents getting their opinions across to their peers, one person’s viewpoint may monopolize that place on the page.

So, folks, let’s keep it short. In our Sound Off rules, it’s stated that you get 30 seconds to let your voice be heard. When a buzzer doesn’t go off at 30 seconds, that’s not a sign to keep talking.

Folks, let’s keep it concise. It may be helpful to write out what you want to say and weed out the extraneous stuff — before you pick up the phone. That way, you spend your 30 seconds talking about what’s important to you.

Let’s keep it relevant. We love to hear people’s thoughts about what’s happening here and how it affects our lives, but let’s try to stay on topics appropriate for print.

Many people love Sound Off. Others hate it. But every voice has a right to be heard, with the exception of those who use Sound Off inappropriately, and we have every right not to print those statements we deem inappropriate.

The perfect Sound Off call is short, concise, relevant and appropriate. If you find you need more space to air your opinion, write it out, sign it, send it in. We’ll be happy to receive it. Based on whether it’s relevant and appropriate, we may just give you all the space you need and print your words the old fashioned way: as a Letter to the Editor.