Letters to the Editor – In Reference To

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Dear Editor:

I have been an avid fan of The Voice Magazine since enrolling at Athabasca University in November 2001. I remain a loyal reader after graduation.

It’s exciting that the publication has grown and has new editorial direction at the helm.

But, I wonder why Sandra Livingston’s editorial in The Voice Magazine Volume 15 Issue 16 2007-05-04 required footnotes. Editorials are, after all, opinion pieces and not academic publications.

The Voice Magazine’s editorial policies clearly state:
2.2 The Editor and writers will work in keeping with Canadian Press Journalistic Style. The Voice will not publish items the Editor judges to be in poor taste, or unsuitable for an educated, sophisticated audience.

The Canadian Press Style Book 12th Edition, Page 14 recommends the following best practice for reporters, writers and editors:
2. Cite competent authorities and sources as the origin of any information open to question. Have proof available for publication in the event of a denial.

This Canadian Press best practice clearly allows the new Editor to freely express her opinion – no footnotes required. I look forward to the retirement of footnoted editorials.

Teresa Neuman, B.P.A.
2138057
Ottawa, ON

Teresa,

Thank you for your response to this article and for your devotion to the Voice even after graduation.

I’m a little puzzled by your letter, though. Voice editorial policy is among the guidelines used to create the Voice, as are the guidelines of the Canadian Press, and neither prohibits the use of footnotes in an editorial, nor would such a prohibition alter our practice if we felt that the notes were necessary, informative, or of interest to readers. While an opinion article is, by definition, based on personal opinion, where those opinions are based on external sources citations or footnotes should be included so that readers can familiarize themselves with the original content to contextualize the commentary. The portion of the Canadian Press Guidelines that you quote support and encourage this usage. While many papers do not supply this option, we find that engaged readers often wish to read further on an issue and would rather not search the web to locate the referenced article. For those who are not interested in further reading, the footnotes can easily be disregarded and should not hinder the reader as they appear at the end of the article.

I would rather err on the side of providing as many reference links as possible as a convenience to interested readers, than adhere to the bare minimum standards of a press book intended for hard-copy publications, where space is at a premium. We will continue to provide links to any referenced source where possible and aim to keep these links as unobtrusive as possible for readers who are not interested in linking outside of the Voice.

Tamra Ross
Editor in Chief

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