Vox Populi Keeps Popping: By BECKY O'MALLEY

Friday October 08, 2004

Wow. Last time we checked, we had more than 9,000 words of letters in the queue, at a point where we would usually expect to have about 2,000, and that doesn’t include letters from out of town, which we don’t usually print. And it doesn’t include long commentary pieces. We have amazing readers, and they keep those letters coming. Most, though not all, are writing about the upcoming election these days. We’ll try to find room by adding extra opinion inches over and above what the advertising volume would normally permit.  

We’re particularly proud of the Berkeley City Council candidates. The statements we’ve gotten from them have been thoughtful, coherent, articulate and individual. For the most part, they’ve resisted the temptation to rely on platitudes instead of ideas. They’ve supplied almost exactly the 800 words they’re entitled to, instead of just issuing short sound bites. Eight hundred words is about the length of a 10-minute speech, whereas candidates’ nights usually limit speakers to five minutes at best and are poorly attended. So voters know a lot more than usual about these candidates. If you missed the first installment, District 5, we have back issues at our office. 

Propositions and ballot measures are a challenge. We’ve opted to run long informative explanations of what they are, instead of just doing endorsements, which even at the best papers are often arrived at by a somewhat casual process. We are running opinions from proponents and critics as space allows. Some have also opted to take out ads for their cause, which is fine with us.  

The presidential contest is a special case. Enthusiastic Kerry-Edwards supporters have deluged the press, including us, with letters saying that their guys won the debates so far. We haven’t gotten any local letters—not even one—expressing the contrary conclusion. So we are opting to put most of these letters only on our website, on the theory that scarce print space is best saved for controversial topics. We do reserve the right to print any letter which seems unusually interesting or clever to us. But thanks, all of you, for sharing your opinions with us.  

And in the further interest of saving space for readers’ opinions, we’ll keep this short today. Clearly, Berkeley Daily Planet readers don’t really need us to tell them what to think.