In 200 words or less

Politicians don’t like to be edited. Each and every word they write or utter, after all, is essential. Or so they think.

Paul Coble, a member of the Board of Commissioners in Wake County, N.C., is a case in point. He’s unhappy that The News & Observer trimmed his letter to the editor to conform to the newspaper’s generous 200-word limit. To Coble, such editing is “dishonest.”

Here’s why the criticism is misguided:

  • Coble, by virtue of his position, is guaranteed publication of any letter he writes to the paper. He would also have an inside track on having an op-ed piece published. Everyday readers enjoy no such privileges.
  • It was Coble’s second letter to the editor published within 30 days. That means he was granted an exception to the paper’s rule limiting people to one letter every 30 days. He’s lucky he got any part of his second letter published.
  • The word limit is in the N&O solicitation for letters to the editor. Coble could have avoided having his letter trimmed by writing less than 200 words. Thus, any wound he suffered from these cuts was self-inflicted.
  • Less is more.

Previous post on this topic here.

UPDATE: I did a word count on the original post, and it had 217 words. It’s been trimmed to meet the 200-word limit.


One Comment

  1. No one — not even a politician — has a right to have his letter to the editor published in a newspaper. Coble is lucky the N&O indulged him by including his at all. Perhaps the paper should no longer do so…

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