What is a letter to the editor?
The Sentinel welcomes letters on any subject. Letters can be authored by more than one person. Handwritten letters will not be accepted.
What is a guest column?
Guest columns may be a topic of the author’s choosing. They should be relevant to The Sentinel’s audience on a local, national or international issue. They also are subject to a more thorough editing process, and writers must express clearly and articulately their point of view. Guest columns may be authored by more than one person and are limited to one submission per month.
How long can letters to the editor or guest columns be?
Letters to the editor may not exceed 300 words. Guest columns must be a minimum of 600 words and a maximum of 750 words. Letters and columns that exceed these limits are dealt with on a case-by-case basis and published at the discretion of the editor.
Does The Sentinel edit letters to the editor or guest columns?
The Sentinel reserves the right to edit letters to the editor or guest columns for clarity and AP Style, as well as to fact-check them and cut them to fit available space in the print edition. Writers must state clear opinions or points of view and support them in their submissions. Writers are highly encouraged to provide source links supporting claims pertaining to events, statements, quotes and data that appear in their writings. The Sentinel reserves the right to remove information that cannot be independently verified.
How does The Sentinel choose letters to the editor to publish?
The Sentinel makes its best effort to publish every letter to the editor and guest column that follows this policy on a first-come, first-served basis. However, the submission of a letter or column does not guarantee its publication. If a submission requires lengthy fact-checking where source citations are not provided by the writer, this may delay or prevent publication.
How often does The Sentinel publish letters or guest columns from the same person?
The Sentinel limits letter submissions to 3 per month and guest column submissions to 1 per month for each reader.
How do I become a community columnist?
Community columnists are regularly featured writers in the community. If you are interested in applying to be a community columnist, you must:
Commit to a monthly submission schedule
Meet a consistent length of 700-750 words
Provide a high-quality photograph of yourself
Meet general standards of sentence structure, grammar and punctuation
Not intentionally put inaccurate or untruthful information in your writing
The Sentinel reserves the right to edit or reject any column. If you are interested, email Editor Sarah Leach, firstname.lastname@example.org, with 2 sample columns and a list of topics you would like to explore.
How do I submit a letter or guest column?
All submissions can be submitted to newsroom@HollandSentinel.com. Include your name, address and telephone number for verification.
Who comprises the Sentinel Editorial Board?
Sarah Leach, Editor
Audra Gamble, Managing Editor
Unsigned editorials reflect The Sentinel’s position on issues. All other columns, letters and cartoons on this page represent the opinions of the writer or the artist, not The Sentinel.
The Sentinel seeks articulate, well-informed remarks on its website and social media platforms that are relevant to the articles where they appear. We welcome your advice, your criticism and your unique insights into the issues of the day. We are strong proponents of free speech, but as Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. so eloquently put it: "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins."
That means we will be tightening up our commenting rules in order to preserve thoughtful discourse. Everyone is entitled to a voice and, in the social media-dominated world of today, everyone has the ability to have their voice heard.
However, that does not mean The Sentinel's web and social media pages are the Wild West of commenting forums — inappropriate remarks will not be tolerated.
We hope and encourage everyone to respect these spaces for their intended use: to share diverse viewpoints respectfully.
All views, respectfully presented, are welcome at The Holland Sentinel. By joining the conversation you agree to all the relevant conditions in the Terms of Service for Facebook and our website.
We reserve the right to suspend users and/or remove comments that, in our judgment, infringe on other users' ability to enjoy our website or social media platforms. Violations that may result in removal include:
Personal attacks, abuse or harassment of other community members, subjects of our coverage or Sentinel staff
Infringes upon or violates the copyrights, trademarks or other intellectual property rights of any person
Is libelous or defamatory
Hate speech or stereotypes that attack or disparage an ethnic, sexual or religious group or a member of any such group
Obscenities, vulgarities or any variation of such that suggests, connotes or contains indecent, offensive or lewd speech
Contains or advocates illegal or violent acts
Advertisements/promotions, spam (including multiple posts that contain the same or similar content), off-topic content, plagiarism, knowingly inaccurate information and/or copyrighted material.
If you have ideas on how to improve the conversation or community, email email@example.com.
At The Sentinel, we are committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity in journalism. Our credibility is what makes our readers trust us and the content we publish.
Careful judgment and common sense should be applied in making decisions so we can best serve the public interest and produce journalism that results in the greatest good.
Here are our News Transparency & Ethics Guidelines, to which our editorial staff must comply:
Avoid conflicts of interest: We are dedicated to maintaining independence from outside interests, influences, investments or business relationships that could compromise credibility.
When Gannett (The Sentinel’s parent company) employees or companies owned by Gannett, are the subjects of stories, we must disclose the relationship.
We pay our own way. We accept no gifts, meals, tickets or preferential treatment from sources or subjects.
Staff members attending cultural events for personal pleasure may not use their affiliation with the company to gain access or preferential treatment.
Staff members may not keep items sent to the newspaper for review — items must be donated to charity.
Before accepting a speaking engagement, we should consider the purpose of the event and how it might be perceived. Staff members should be careful during such appearances not to make comments that stray beyond what we would write in the newspaper.
Relationships with those whose positions render them likely subjects of journalistic interest are to be disclosed to editors.
We do not espouse our own viewpoints that would compromise our ability to report impartially on public issues in any form, including on social networks.
We avoid active involvement in partisan causes — politics, community affairs, social action, demonstrations — that could compromise our ability to report and edit fairly.
Staff members should avoid public expressions of their political views. We will not run for political office or campaign.
Although relatives and significant others cannot be made subject to company rules, we recognize that their employment or involvement in causes can appear to compromise our integrity. When such appearances arise, editors should be notified.
We are dedicated to obeying the law. We will observe common standards of decency. We will take responsibility for our decisions and our actions.
All news content and listings should be independent of influence from advertisers, and free of any advertising concerns. Any advertorial content should be clearly identified.
Errors: We are committed to minimizing errors and correcting ones that occur.
We give those who draw errors to our attention a respectful hearing. In every case, an editor must be made aware of any notice of a potential error.
Even if no one complains, if you know of an error in your work or that of a colleague, you are obliged to make it known to an editor.
All corrections are submitted for approval to a senior editor. When a request for a correction is denied and an objection remains, the senior-most editor is consulted for a final determination.
Unpublishing requests: There are various reasons why people ask for us to remove or alter content after publication.
As a matter of policy, we do not immediately grant take-down requests. Once a request is received, we will conduct an investigation to determine what, if any, action is warranted. Unpublishing requests must be approved by the executive editor.
If there is a claim of inaccuracy, we will publish a correction. There also may be situations in which fairness demands an update or follow-up coverage — for example, if we reported that a person was charged with a crime but did not report that the charges were later dismissed for lack of evidence. In short, our response will be to consider whether further editorial action is warranted to avoid unpublishing.
We are reluctant to grant these requests because:
We highly value preserving the integrity of the archive, as it is our obligation to our subscribers.
To grant such requests with regularity would put The Sentinel in a position where it would have to honor all future requests.
Please send requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attribution of sources: We disclose the source of all information whenever possible. When we agree to protect a source’s identity, we do not reveal the identity to anyone outside the newspaper.
Anonymous sources are used only with approval of the executive editor, who must be told the name of the source. Likewise, the source must be told that his/her name will be shared with the editor.
Before we accept information without full attribution, we make every reasonable effort to get it on the record. When that is not possible, we endeavor to obtain the information elsewhere.
When an anonymous source is deemed necessary, we request an on-the-record reason for concealing the source’s identity and include the reason in the story. We use identifying information when possible to disclose a source’s point of view and potential biases and lend credibility to the anonymous source.
Plagiarism and credit: Plagiarism is one of journalism’s unforgivable sins and will not be tolerated. If it occurs, the company will take disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
Fabrication of any type is unacceptable. We do not create composite characters.
We fully attribute any material obtained from other newspapers or media and only do so as allowed within the limits of copyright law. When using wire content within our stories, we clearly identify the source.
We credit other publications that develop stories worthy of coverage. We never borrow another’s work without credit.
Fairness: We believe our role is to tell the truth — accurately, clearly, fairly and in context so readers know and can act upon matters that affect their lives.
We are dedicated to the truthful, accurate and thorough reporting of news and information in all presentations of our published platforms.
In covering controversial issues we seek out intelligent, articulate views from all perspectives.
People who will be shown in an adverse light in a story must be given meaningful opportunity to defend themselves. This means making a good-faith effort to give the subject of allegations or criticism sufficient time and information to respond substantively.
Our reporting must not omit facts of significance. Fairness includes completeness.
If time allows, we must make more than one attempt seeking comment; if we are unsuccessful, we must indicate in the story that the source could not be reached after a single or several attempts, as applicable.
This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: Submit an opinion, read our commenting rules