Editor’s Column: Anonymous returns

It’s been nearly a year since I lambasted the author of an anonymous flier distributed just prior to the rec district board election. I still believe if you want to share your opinion you should put your name on it, whether you’re stuffing future litter under windshield wipers in the dark of night or sending an unsigned letter to the editor.
I should have known better than to engage with anonymous. It’s the same mistake we make when we take pity on a hissing stray cat and leave out food. Next thing you know, you have a pet cat.
I got another anonymous letter—perhaps from the same person, perhaps not—in the mail last Thursday. The first one arrived several months ago with miniature copies of a letter related to the extension office audit. We’re still waiting on the official results of that investigation before we report on it.
I’m not going to share the latest letter’s allegations here, because it offered no documented evidence, just negative opinions and anecdotes about various county officials and some pointy digs at the paper for not being more willing to investigate such claims.
That’s fair enough. Perhaps someone would like to donate enough funding so we can hire a full-time investigative reporter for a year?
As to the discussion of anonymity, there’s a marked difference between a reporter granting anonymity to a known and trusted source in exchange for validated information, and an anonymous author cloaking his or her claims of wrongdoing behind unsigned letters.
So, if you’d really like to expose the corruption and wrongdoing you allege, and you have some proof that goes beyond hearsay and editorializing, let’s talk. Make an appointment. I don’t know who you are or your background. Perhaps you are that “known and trusted source” of great value for whom we would exercise our constitutional right to protect your identity for the sake of a news story. Right now, however, you’re neither known nor trusted, and your letter is just another piece of paper in the growing heap on my desk.
If that wasn’t enough, to my surprise I got yet another anonymous letter to the editor in the mail on Monday. This was a more traditional letter, but along the same lines as the other one.
A majority of newspapers have policies that deny publication to unsigned letters to the editor, as does the HT. That policy has been in place for as long as I can remember, and it will remain. So, to the letter writer, if you would like to send your letter again, including your name and the town you live in, please feel free to do so to be considered for publication.

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In happier news, the Colorado House bill I mentioned a few weeks ago that would have removed requirements on counties to publish various public notices has been killed in committee. That’s good news for citizens who don’t have the time or technology to rummage through county websites to find information, and good news for local newspapers statewide.
Also in happier news (and who doesn’t need more of that?), we welcomed a beautiful new grandson last Thursday. We went to see him at the hospital, but he was sound asleep, so I’m still waiting to snuggle him. Nothing like a new baby to make things better.

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Did this January seem like the longest January ever? I, for one, am happy to say farewell to what always seems like the longest month of the year. The days are gradually getting longer, and that’s a relief. Maybe everyone will start to cheer up a little bit. It seems like there’s been an unusual amount of angsty behavior lately.

By Niki Turner | niki@theheraldtimes.com