Letter submitted using false name

Bluff Country Newspaper Group has learned that a letter to the editor published last week about the Catalpa, LLC, project was submitted by a person using the false name of Ronald Vitter of Caledonia. 
The newspaper group doesn’t allow anonymous letters or ones submitted under a pen name. The editorial staff at the newspapers try to ensure that all of letters are from real people, but this one slipped by the process. 
As far as current staff knows, this has never happened at any of these newspapers, at least in the past several decades. Submissions are typically honest views about local topics submitted by people who identify themselves, a requirement of most newspapers.
“Our Open Forum, in which letters are published, is meant to create a space for public discussion about important issues,” said Publisher David Phillips. “Opinions from real people carry more weight in the eyes of readers.”
The same process is part of the newspaper editorial process, added Phillips, as news stories on issues, government meetings and other topics carry bylines so readers know who is writing the stories. 
The effort for transparency also carries into advertising as efforts are made to identify who places ads, particularly political ones. The newspapers also won’t allow paid news releases disguised as stories so people know news content isn’t influenced by dollars.
Since the group’s newspapers are based in small towns with a lot of personal interaction, the letter verification process became lax, noted Phillips.
“We apologize for the error and want to thank readers who notified us about the potential deception,” said Phillips. “The person who was thought to be responsible has been warned and we plan to more thoroughly identify letter-writers in the future. We continue to welcome letters to the editor, an important part of our newspapers, but will be more careful to make sure they are from real people.”