The Nevada Appeal's 'Mailbox' is the one section of the newspaper I truly believe is owned by the readers.
It is reserved for letters to the editor written by people with sincerely held opinions who are honest enough to put their names to those opinions. Sometimes, however, people betray the trust of their fellow readers by submitting a letter with a false name. They want to express an opinion, but they aren't willing to stand beside it.
The Nevada Appeal has procedures in place to help us verify the authenticity of letters, so readers can be assured they are reading legitimate opinions from legitimate people. But it will always be possible for someone devious enough to find a way around those procedures.
Such was apparently the case with a recent letter, which I published on these pages Sept. 8, critical of a young race driver named Danny Marcin.
The letter purported to be written by a firefighter from Casper, Wyo., who was in the area helping to extinguish wildland fires. The letter was hand-delivered to the Nevada Appeal's office.
After questions about the letter were raised by Danny's parents, we made several efforts to trace the name on the letter. Our latest effort, a registered letter, came back this week undeliverable.
I must conclude that I was duped, and that I published a letter with a false name. I regret that this happened. Someone who apparently didn't have the courage to put his own name on a letter used the Nevada Appeal for his own purposes, and I allowed it.
We want to keep the 'Mailbox' section open to all readers - as you may know, we try to print every letter we get - because we believe it is important to provide that space as a community forum of ideas, concerns and commentary.
You may not agree with every letter-writer's opinion, but that's the point. If we were to choose which letters to publish based on content, then the 'Mailbox' would begin to reflect our opinions rather than our readers'.
Just as important, though, is that you know they are real letters written by real people.