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Dear Ms. Leonard:

 

Thank you for your thoughtful message asking about the basis for the decision not to publish, as written, an article submitted by Mr. Steven Hanley to the ATA Chronicle. As you know from your days as Chronicle editor, in considering what material to publish in our association’s magazine, the editor chooses items that, in his or her view, will be of interest to the members. They must be well-written and contain content of sufficiently high quality to merit inclusion. The Chronicle receives more material than there is space to publish, so of necessity some submissions will be declined.

 

It is, of course, the right and the duty of an association to exercise professional judgment in determining what it will publish. Mr. Hanley’s article was written in a combative style. It did not convey new information to assist ATA members in practicing their profession; rather, its point was to express a personal opinion. The underlying implication that the author’s personal experience of unscrupulous business conduct is representative of all or many language companies could have been interpreted as an indirect attack on an entire class of ATA members; this automatically lessened its chance of publication. Whenever possible, the Chronicle prefers to publish material written in a positive and constructive, rather than a negative and argumentative, tone. These were the grounds for the decision that the article, as written, did not meet ATA standards for publication. Open consideration of the general proposals expressed in the draft article is not, and never has been, at issue.

 

As you may know, the Chronicle editor has given Mr. Hanley specific guidance on how he could present his ideas in favor of a change in the ATA in an “op-ed” piece that meets these standards. That would be the proper forum for opinions about the future of the association. ATA welcomes discussion of these ideas now, as when they have arisen before, but the discussion must be civil and respectful of other participants. I do hope that Mr. Hanley will choose to present his ideas in such a way in the Chronicle.

 

For a fuller discussion than the op-ed section of a monthly magazine allows, ATA maintains a discussion forum on association issues. It is located in the Members Only section of the ATA website at www.atanet.org (click on ATA Forum). The association encourages all members to take advantage of this valuable communication resource. Of course, the same standard applies: these are difficult issues, on which reasonable people can disagree; for dialogue to be constructive, participants must refrain from imputing motives to others.

 

You may be interested to know that as a result of this experience, the ATA board of directors is preparing to publish the specific criteria of the Chronicle publication policy, so that members will have a clear understanding of the basis on which editorial decisions are made.

 

I appreciate your interest in this issue and your expression of concern. Thank you for your commitment to our association.

Scott Brennan, ATA President

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