It has long been The Sentinel’s policy to require letter writers to include their full mailing address, which is published along with their names, as both a means of accountability and to give readers an opportunity to respond via mail to those whose opinions spark a desire for more debate. We also require, but do not publish, phone numbers, as an additional means of verifying the identity of writers.
Our belief has been that while a free exchange of ideas is to be encouraged in our pages and on our website, this amplified reach for one’s opinions does come with a responsibility to conduct a public debate in a cordial and civic manner. Providing an address helps ensure this.
In recent years, we have been receiving more requests to withhold street addresses. Some of these have come from residents expressing concern for their safety in general; more and more, they have accompanied letters commenting on politics, and have cited the increasing frequency of harassment and violence toward those expressing differing opinions. During and after the most recent national election, we’ve seen more letter writers withdrawing their letters rather than provide an address publicly. Also in recent times, readers have come to continue the debate by submitting letters to this page and without need for a mailing address to respond.
Therefore, moving forward, we will no longer publish full addresses at the end of letters — just the name and community of the writer.
However, for verification and accountability purposes, we still require all letter writers provide a full address and phone number. We also remind writers all letters remain subject to editing for content, style and length and the usual considerations we have applied in the past.
— The Sentinel Editorial Board