Our Thankful Thursday -- an experiment in gratitude

We have a few guidelines for our letters to the editor section. One limits how long a letter can be and another limits how often writers will be published.

A lesser-known rule is that we don't run "thank you" letters. We're going to suspend that rule for a while and see how it goes.

Welcome to Thankful Thursday.

There are many kind and generous people in the Tri-Cities. They perform acts of random kindness and donate their time and talents to good causes. They help stranded motorists and return lost wallets.

We often get letters from the recipients of this good will.

In the past, these letters have been rejected, in a kind way, with a short note that states our policy and recommends the writer send a thank you note directly to the giver.

It may seem like a callous approach, but if we ran all the thank you letters we receive, we would soon be overrun. The result would be less room for readers' opinions and discussions on topics of the day.

It's a common philosophy in our business. Most newspapers have a similar policy.

On the other hand, why not try something new?

Maybe it's the Thanksgiving season that has given us cause to rethink our stand. Maybe it's that the onslaught of negativity seems to need a counterweight. Either way, we're going to lift the ban on thank you letters from now until year's end, then decide whether to make the change permanent.

Of course, we still will be reluctant to run letters that thank a clerk at the store for helping someone find a pair of shoes. That's part of his job. We also shy away from businesses thanking their patrons. That's just part of their business.

But these are guidelines, not rules.

So here's our idea of Thankful Thursday.

We will restrict the thank you letters to Thursdays. We will give preference to shorter letters so that we can get more in the paper. We will avoid letters thanking businesses for doing their job or some other commercial bent.

As with all letters, electronic submission is preferable. You can e-mail letters to letters@tricityherald.com or fill out the form on our web page at www.tricityherald.com.

As with any experiment, we will be eager to hear our readers' reaction. Send your comments to snorman@tricityherald.com or call Chris Sivula at 582-1538.

Our little experiment might prove that people are more interested in political rants than kind sentiments. People say they want good news in the paper, but experience shows that tragedy draws a lot more readers.

Expressing gratitude is nice for the giver and the receiver. Time will tell if it people think it makes for good reading.

We anticipate having more letters than we have space to run them. We will have to make some choices. If your letter isn't chosen for print, or even if it is, we still recommend dropping a note directly to your benefactor.

It's great to live in a community where there is more good news than will fit on one page.

And now a word to our readers: Thanks, guys.