The offices at 1 Merchants Plaza, home of the Bangor Daily News, is pictured April 6, 2020. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

Bangor Daily News readers may have noticed fewer letters to the editor in the paper recently. There have even been a few days in recent weeks, like today, where we haven’t published any letters at all.

This is not because we don’t want to publish letters to the editor, or are moving away from them. That is hardly the case. Instead, this reflects the low volume of letters we are receiving.

There is typically a slowdown in the letters and columns we receive around the holidays. People are rightly busy with other things, and this trend is nothing new. But the normal holiday slowdown has seemed particularly acute and particularly long this year. We also recognize that people have all sorts of forums and avenues to share their opinions these days, so we’re especially appreciative of everyone who takes the time and effort to put their name to their opinions and submit them to this paper.

If you value the exchange of ideas on these pages, if you’re looking for more letters each day, please consider writing one yourself. We do our share of writing and editing, but the BDN opinion section is powered primarily by a great force outside of our control: You. Your thoughts and opinions help keep things interesting. They help inspire debate and may inform your neighbors and elected officials, and ultimately could help lead to action from those who engage with the ideas.

Other readers, and the state generally, benefit from your thoughts on the issues of the day.

Some of the best commentary we receive is that which challenges our own thinking or actions, like last week when we made the mistake of once again publishing an abridged version of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Several letter writers, and a strong chorus of other messages, helped us to better understand the pain we caused while offering us thoughtful paths forward.

To be clear, we don’t publish every letter that we receive. Letters should please be kept around 250 words. As noted on our online form for submitting opinion content, letters and columns can be edited or rejected “for clarity, taste, libel and space.”

What does this mean? If your letter has inaccurate information, makes unsupported allegations, is filled with hate, attacks the motives or intentions of someone else in a way that is unknowable (“So-and-so wants to ruin the environment, hates puppies,” etc.), we may not be able to run it. Or we may need to edit it in order to make it publishable. When significant but workable edits are needed, we will try to go back and forth with a letter writer to update their submission in accordance with these guidelines. Sometimes, we make quick and simple edits on our own to move things along.

We feel pretty strongly that, though this is the opinion section, that doesn’t mean it should be the fact-free section. The opinions expressed here can and should come from across the political and ideological spectrums. No matter the perspective, it still needs to be based in fact (and yes, we’ll ask for hyperlinks to sources for those facts).

When we verify assertions made in a letter, or explain to someone why we’re changing something in their letter, people are sometimes pleasantly surprised that we actually fact-check like this. We do our best to make sure that people have space to share their opinions while not spreading misinformation or unfairly maligning the character and intentions of others.

This can be a time-consuming and difficult process, but it’s an important one. And yes, sometimes we miss things and get stuff wrong. Everyone needs an editor, even editors.

Just to be clear, we don’t publish letters because we agree with them. We publish letters because they reflect what readers and community members are thinking. We recognize that we may sometimes publish material that others find objectionable. We do this to make sure people are aware of the diversity of perspectives on timely topics. If people disagree with something we have published, or our decision to publish it, they can always write to us explaining why.

We want to hear from you. These opinion pages are at their best not when we are telling you what to think, but when we are a conduit for your diverse and thoughtful ideas.

We hope you will keep sharing them with us at or use the submission form on our website.

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The BDN Editorial Board

The Bangor Daily News editorial board members are Publisher Richard J. Warren, Editorial Page Editor Susan Young, Assistant Editorial Page Editor Matt Junker and BDN President Todd Benoit. Young has worked...