There were nearly three pages of “Letters from our Readers” in last weeks Tri-City Times, all but one regarding the highly debated Almont school bond issue. An issue which has pitted neighbor against neighbor. The anger felt in Almont over this “yes” or “no” vote is extremely high. Unlike any issue we’ve seen in decades.

One of the several letters we published used fake names, fake email, and has a fake Facebook page. Had we known this letter was written with fake names, sent with a fake email, and a fake Facebook page we would not have run it.

We got duped!

It wasn’t fair for the people referenced in the letter. It should not have run. It was written by a real person, alright, just not a person with enough courage to sign their name, yet brave enough to write what were only half-truths and misinformation.

Letters to the editor are important because they provide a platform for readers to express their opinions, share their perspectives
and engage in public discourse. They allow for community feedback, provide diverse viewpoints on published articles and can bring attention to issues that may not have been covered in previously published reports.

We believe in running as many letters as possible, and rarely does a local writer’s letter not run. Most letters we get are not highly charged emotional issues and most of the regular letter writers we know personally.

An apology to the people referenced in the letter is in order. And an apology to our general readership who expect more, and should expect more, from this newspaper. In highly debated issues like the Almont schools bond proposal we should scrutinize each and every word in each letter we receive. We fumbled the basic fundamentals of newspapering.

Technology has opened the door for someone to fool us, to scam us with fake names, fake phone numbers and fake email addresses to hide behind. We must try harder to stop such people using these tactics and we will.

Not to excuse us from our responsibility, but we’re not alone. In talking with other newspaper publishers they are also having issues with writers using fake names to bypass letter writing requirements for publication. It’s a battle small newspapers face and will have to remain focused on in the future.

A few of our readers called and complained over the letter.

“The writer of the letter isn’t even a real name, it’s fake,” one person told us in a phone conversation.

Her husband was as upset as she was along with a longtime elected official and others who were referenced in the letter by this person. They all were outraged and felt slandered. Their names weren’t used.

Yes, we got fooled by a deceitful person, a person afraid and too cowardly to use their own name.

The ownership and staff will take the proper steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again. In this day and age it will be difficult, but we pledge to do so.

It’s our hope that the divide in Almont will heal itself and neighbors will again see each other as residents, friends and not “yes” or “no” voters. There is plenty to be proud of in Almont.

For over four decades we’ve been proud to be a constructive part of all the communities we serve, Almont being one, of course.