Wanted: Opinions in the Light of Day

In our mail bag this week are eloquent letters defending personal watercraft on Chesapeake Bay. You won't read in these pages what those writers have to say.

We've also received thoughtful and passionate letters recently about politicians, alleged rip-off artists and shady dealings in the boat business. We're keeping them to ourselves.

We'd like to share with you these opinions, but we can't. Despite well-stated views about the rights of jet-ski owners, a "Concerned Boater" is doomed to silence -- along with those other letter-writers.

It's not because we're opposed to what they've got to say. Or afraid of printing it. We like difference of opinion and we relish give and take. We've got plenty of ink.

The reason these views will never see print is simple: These writers didn't sign their names.

Along with 99 percent of the newspapers in the free world, New Bay Times requires all our correspondents to sign their names to their words. Phone numbers or, nowadays, e-mail addresses, must be included so we can be sure writers exist and are who they say they are.

But there's more to it than that. That more has to do with the courage of convictions. We can't take seriously what you're saying if we don't know who you are.

We welcome tips on news, but if you bring your views wearing a paper bag over your head, you might as well not come to us at all. If you feel strongly enough about an issue to bother to write, then sign your name.

Newspapers perform many services for readers: Among other things, we give you news, views and outlets for recreation. We'll even fight battles for you -- but we need to see who we're fighting for.

Unsigned letters belong to the tradition of ransom notes and poison pen letters.

Not to newspaper pages.

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VolumeVI Number 31
August 6-12, 1998
New Bay Times

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