When I became Editor of Korean Philately
, I joined Writers Unit 30 of the American Philatelic Society. My goal was to learn the job and to improve continuously. In recent issues of The Philatelic Communicator
, the journal of the group, there has been considerable controversy over how it has handled its letters to the Editor. In the first issue of 2001, the President recommended that editors make explicit the guidelines under how letters to the editor are handled.
I have not had such guidelines, and there have been times when I have wondered about how I should handle a specific letter. I had some conversations with earlier editors, and I received very different advice. So I have taken the time to put together the guidelines under which I am currently operating. I would really appreciate it if you would read these through and let me know what you think about them. Here they are:
Editor’s Guidelines for Publishing Letters to the Editor
1. Anything I receive as Editor may be considered for use in the “Letters to the Editor” unless it is specifically identified as “Not for publication.”
2. I correct typographical, spelling, and punctuation errors.
3. I do not include personal information unless it specifically relates to a philatelic topic.
4. I omit sentences or paragraphs that are redundant.
5. I do not use salutations, complimentary closings, or academic titles (e.g., Dr.).
6. If a letter is critical about an article, I will generally give the author an opportunity to respond, especially if the author has email. This will be a judgment call based on how serious I believe the criticism to be.
7. I reserve the right to reduce the length of a letter if it is very long and does not add significant useful information.
8. I will usually not include a letter that "attacks" an individual when the attack has nothing to do with a published article. Criticisms about stamp shows, auction houses, printing firms, stamp fulfillment services, and so on, are fair game.
9. I will include letters that offer suggestions in improving KP and letters of praise if they speak to specific aspects that are appreciated. Generally, the kind of selfserving letters that one often finds in Global Stamp News will not be printed.
10. It is my judgment that we do not receive an inordinate number of letters from one or two individuals. Thus, at this point, there is no limit on the number of letters published per writer during a year. However, I do reserve the right to limit the number of letters from one writer during a year if this becomes a problem.
11. I will use illustrations in a letter if that makes the point easier to understand. In fact, I prefer to have these when appropriate.
12. If known to me, I will not publish a letter that has also been sent to other publications that our readership is likely to read (e.g., Linn’s ). I will, however, publish such letters if the letter is also being sent to an esoteric journal that our readership is not likely to read (e.g., a non-English language journal). Nor will I include form letters.
13. I will not include crude or vulgar language (my judgment applies).
14. I prefer to receive letters (and articles) via e-mail, but I will use any medium that you prefer, including post, fax, telephone, and e-mail.
15. If something in the letter is not clear to me, I will follow up to get clarification and will then edit the letter for improved clarification.
16. Unless I receive lots of letters about one topic, I will print all letters received. If there is considerable redundancy, I will select the letters that best represent the opinions of the other writers.
In another issue of the same journal, it is suggested that each journal have its own mission statement. That also sounds like a good idea, so I am proposing for your feedback the following:
Korean Philately is the official quarterly journal of the Korea Stamp Society. Its contents are intended to appeal to novice through advanced level collectors, and covers the stamps (including revenues and cinderellas), postal history, postal stationery, literature, and peripheral documents related to the Korean Empire, Korea under Japanese Occupation, the Republic of Korea, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. While the primary readership is geographically located in the United States, followed by the Republic of Korea, membership exists in many countries.
As much as possible, each issue will contain an editorial, a message from the president, letters to the editor, report of the Secretary-Treasurer, Librarian report, new issues from both North and South Korea, and available results of auctions containing Korean material, as well as general information about the Society and the journal found inside the front cover. The front cover will always display the ISBN number, the volume and issue number, and the table of contents. As requested, we will include brief ads free for members. We also solicit paid advertisements, but they will never exceed l/8th of the journal pages. The average length of the journal, over the period of a calendar year, is no less than 28 pages.
While the general goal is to include articles on a broad range of applicable topics related to both North and South Korea, as well as the many types of philately within each, there are occasions on which a special issue will be published that concentrates on one area of Korean philately.
The articles will be written at a level that is appropriate for the understanding of our members who do not speak English as a primary language. Except for widely used and accepted philatelic abbreviations, all abbreviations will be explained within at least every two pages. All illustrations will be labeled and referenced within the body of the article. Whenever possible, all articles will be illustrated. It is the responsibility of each author to provide high quality, camera-ready illustrations. Reprints of articles that have been published in other journals will not usually be included unless they are of great importance, are authored by a KSS member, and are not likely to have been read in the original journal by the members.
While input is always welcome from the membership and, especially, from the KSS officers, the final approval on the content and design of the publication will remain with the editor. At least once in each two-year period, a member survey will be undertaken to identify areas in which continuous improvement can be made.
The Editor serves at the pleasure of the Board of the KSS and is appointed annually.
During the past two years, we have experienced a resurgence in new members. It has been wonderful to see this "new blood" coming into the Society. To get them started writing, and to introduce them to the membership, I sent a letter to all new members listed in KP since February, 2000, inviting them to complete an interview/questionnaire. I have already received four and expect to receive many more. I will include a couple in each issue and hope that this will be a continuing feature.
I cannot close this editorial without saying “good-bye” to Frank AlIard, Jr., a long-time member of KSS and a regular contributor to this publication. Frank’s obituary and letters to the editor contain additional information about Frank’s contributions. Over the next few issues, you will continue to see occasional contributions that Frank sent to me prior to his death. The philatelic community and his friends and family will surely miss him.
Go to Frank's Obit