Do People Still Write Letters To The Editor?

from the the-conversation-has-changed dept

I had a somewhat surreal experience a month ago. Out of the blue I received an email from someone from Rolling Stone magazine, saying that they wanted to know if I wanted to write a letter to the editor about an article in the upcoming issue -- and if I was interested they would ship me a copy of the magazine overnight. There were a bunch of things about this that didn't make any sense. First, they solicit letters to the editor?!? I had no idea. Second, they would overnight me a copy of the physical magazine? Just send me a digital copy. Finally, if I have something to say, I'm much more likely to just say it here than compose a "letter to the editor." The whole thing was so confusing that I emailed back to make sure that they were serious, and to ask if they always solicit letters to the editor. I didn't hear back for a bit, but a week later, a woman emailed back and said that they sometimes solicit letters from people to go along with the general letters they just get (she also pointed me to a URL since the article had been published in the interim, and there was no longer any need to overnight the magazine).

However, since then I've been thinking about what an out-of-date concept the whole "letter to the editor" is, so it comes as little surprise that Vice magazine skipped the Letters to the Editor this month, instead posting a whining rant online about how they don't get real letters any more:
You know what? No letters page this month. You know why? Because we aren't receiving enough real letters. We mainly get emails now, and people don't think when they write emails. They just pump them out, which makes them hard to reply to. We sat here and looked at like 50 emails we've gotten in the last couple days and it was really depressing. It's like trying to come back to a burp or a fart. What can you say? "Nice fart"? "Subpar belch, but try again"?

And we used to get great letters. They would arrive in decorated envelopes along with goofy little tokens, tchotchkes, gizmos, and gifts inside -- even cheap stuff like newspaper clippings or a photo or a drawing was nice. Now we just get retarded fucking emails...
I guess if that were the situation, I could see going out and soliciting better Letters to the Editor as well, but the fact is the whole Letters to the Editor concept seems pretty antiquated at this point. It was based on the premise that the magazine publishers and editors were the gatekeepers of the content, and if you didn't like it, you could potentially get your say in -- but only if they chose your comment out of a pile of others, and then it would likely be edited down anyway. It wasn't a conversation. It wasn't participation. It was letting the riff raff have their carefully moderated say as filler.

Of course, this sort of thinking can still be found in certain media industry folks who still pine for those "good old days" when people didn't really talk back. Witness a recent column in Toronto's Globe and Mail where the author trots out the tired complaints about bloggers that went out of style in 2004. It's the usual stuff about how most blogging is crappy, and how dare the riff raff think that they have a voice:
And now there is blogging, and comments. Readers may take 30 seconds to post a comment on a story or blog item that a writer dashed off in a minute. On The Globe website, our slogan is "Join the Conversation," but in the blogosphere, what follows isn't usually a conversation but a brief, ungrammatical shouting match. You can have more pensive chats in a bar fight.

And journalism wasn't meant to be a conversation, anyway. It was maybe a monologue, at its most democratic a carefully constructed dialogue. If readers didn't like or agree with the monologues in paper A, they bought paper B. What was most important about their opinions was that they thought enough to spend the coin.
There's also some nonsense about how people only have a finite number of things to say, and therefore you should save it for important publications like a magazine or a newspaper. In other words, please shut up and let us go back to telling you what's important. And then these old school media types wonder why we don't want to participate under their rules?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 7:41pm

    That's too bad.

    You should have written in, Mike.

     

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  2.  
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    Steve, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 8:40pm

    Agreed, in fact you could have CC'd to them this post as your "letter to the editor". Even if they didn't print it, I'm sure it would still get them to think about what they are doing.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 9:05pm

    Letters in General

    It's all pretty sad actually. Seriously, people enjoy a good, well written message or story that shows thought behind it.

     

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  4.  
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    Matt Bennett, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 9:11pm

    Yeah, I think you're being a little too egalitarian here, Mike. First of all, yes, letters to editor matter. Just because YOU and everyone you know are enlightened blogging/commenting machines, doesn't mean most people are. There are still concentrations of opinion and writing, and think that will remain even when it almost all moves to online. See, I don't think the fact that most people don't blog/comment aggressively (save their friends myspace page) isn't just a matter of adoption. At this point, most people who really want to can get a reasonable broadband connection. Fact is, most people are kinda dull and don't have that much to say. Not stupid, just uninspired, and there creative output such as it is isn't really suitable for prime time.

    SO, yeah, there's gate keepers, and there always will be, because people seek somewhere to go with some of the average drivel removed. Not that those places won't let in occasional drivel or have bad writing wholly there own, but yeah, it's a little better overall. And as long as those sorts of placess exist, letters to editor will still matter. Consider them "filtered comments" if you prefer. This place is better than most, but what percentage of the comments here are worth reading?

    I agree with you the idea of solicited letters to the editor is a bit silly though. They should just be honest about it and pay you to write a column, or one half of one if it required a response.

     

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    fritzbrown, Aug 22nd, 2008 @ 9:46pm

    Vice magazine readers are far too hip to be writing letters and, most likely, don't even care about anything outside of their hipster clique.

     

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  6.  
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    Dan, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 12:03am

    @4: The chance of getting a letter printed in my local newspaper are slim to none. The last time one of mine was printed, they edited key points out and gutted the context. Maybe they thought it would be more interesting, even if it was not my letter anymore. Raw emails may be somewhat crude and even vulgar but still better then some wet nosed kid in a newsroom cherry picking the stack and shredding the meat from your letter. The great thing about emails and blogs is that you get raw response, if you don't like that go buy a paper or magazine and read the strained pablum.

     

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    Kthx Bai, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 12:52am

    they need to do way instain moron> who post there comments becuse these commenter post rubbish back. my pary are with the editor who must read that letters. I am truley sorry for your lot

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 1:26am

    What is the difference in a letter to the editor and posting here?

    What is the difference in solicition a letter to the editor amd soliciting a posting here?

    What is the difference in making a false letter to the editor and in making a false posting here?

    None except for the speed of delivery and the cost of delivery.

     

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  9.  
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    didi, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 2:33am

    Right

    Sure because basicly write letter.So, it true.

     

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    Khromm, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 4:20am

    Letters to the editor... UK stylee

    Dear Sir

    RE letters to the editor

    I know it's a bit outdated overall, and I know how email has more or less supplanted the letter in today's day and age, but I also know of one publication for which getting a letter printed is a matter of some prestige, and indeed, difficulty. Yet they still regularly print letters.

    I speak of that well known UK broadsheet, The Times.

    For residents of the UK that still read said publication, having a letter actually printed there is as much of an ambition in itself as it is a forum for getting a point of view across. In fact, there are certain "rules" that your transcript must follow before it will even be considered for publication. Actually managing to get into the paper's letters page is to become a member of an altogether elite and indeed exclusive club. (I speak with a certain amount of experience of this; one of the members of my family has somehow managed to have two letters printed to date, wheras others, through no small effort of their own, have yet to be mentioned).

    Of course, while the whole concept is becoming outdated through no small fault of the progress of technology and time, it must be accepted that the majority of consumers no longer see having something in print as being an achievement, especially when the simplicity of having something posted to a website is as quick as commenting here. But still, the tradition of "Letter to the editor" continues.

    Yours sincerely,

    Khromm

     

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  11.  
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    Rosemarie, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 4:48am

    Letter to the eidtor

    I am a letter writer myself and I still do it. From a magazine to a store owner, usually a compliment but sometimes a complaint. There is a problem: no one wants to give out their address it is like they are afraid to let you know where they are. I bought a product the other day and wanted to tell the company but all they would let me do is write an email. So maybe this is what is happening, it might not be the consumer but the suppliere.

     

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    mike, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 5:27am

    Letters or email, doesn't matter--ease does

    Letter writers are not better writers than email writers. That would be silly. But it is easier to write an email and press send then get some paper, a pen, sit down, write out your thoughts, get en envelope, stamp, and mailing address, and trot yer ass down to the mailbox.

    Usually people who will spend their time writing a letter are motivated to do so and will likely be able to glue together some coherent thoughts so that an editor can clean it up and post the good bits in a letter page.

    Those same letter writers also send email, but there are more people sending emails, posting to blogs and forums that the signal to noise is much lower. It only seems that no one writes letter anymore when all you get is drivel.

    What the Toronto Globe and Mail needs to figure out is why no one is writing anymore. Perhaps it's their content that isn't resonating with readers.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 6:12am

    from the the-conversation-has-changed dept

    Why the foul language? It did not add anything to the article. It just shows your mentality. You couldn't do that on any other public medium. If you wrote that way to any "letter to the editor" it would NOT be published. There are women and young people who are on the internet that do not want or like to hear your #&@$. KNOCK IT OFF before some old grandma comes over with a couple big strong men and makes you eat a bar of soap.

     

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    thomas, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 6:44am

    Censorship?

    Newspapers tend not to print letters that do not support their position, or are critical of agencies in the government. Aside from that they do not want to waste space that is more profitable if given over to advertisements.

     

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    Sneeje, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 7:12am

    You're glossing over a key issue

    While I agree with most of what you say, Mike, you are ignoring the valid part of the old media's underlying concerns. Your point really is that no one should be the gatekeeper of people's opinions. I'm good with that.

    But it would be great if we could start exploring methods of sharing these opinions that encourage more constructive conversations. Perhaps one nice thing about letters to the editor is that people reading them would get to see reasonably well thought out expressions of opinion. Now most of those are buried under heaps of vitriol and barely understandable prose.

    I'm not suggesting the substitution of one gateway over another, but perhaps there are ways to evolve the current collaboration and communication frameworks to encourage more reasoned discussions.

     

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  16.  
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    Sneeje, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 7:14am

    Re: Censorship?

    Huh? Not publish letters critical of agencies in the government? Have you ever read a newspaper? Try the LA Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Herald...

     

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  17.  
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    Ajax 4Hire, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 7:23am

    Sunday, Nov 7, 2004, the last day I bought a newpaper

    It was the Atlanta Journal/Constitution.
    The newspaper just before the 2004 elections.

    The "AJC" had published their official recommendations for who they want to win the 2004 elections. And among the list is Cynthia McKinney.

    She is a racist and the worst kind of politician. Her and her father indited on election fraud. She panders. When she does not win, she cries foul, fraud.

    The AJC knew all of this and still felt it was a good recommendation to support a racist pandering politician.

    I never look behind me, my troubles will be few.

     

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  18.  
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    Ima Fish, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 8:11am

    You're totally missing the point

    The point is that people used to write well thought out and well articulated letters to the editors. Now they're emailing crap. It's not really about whether they're on paper or sent via email. It's that they're unprintable because they're so poorly written.

     

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  19.  
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    Luci, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 10:00am

    Re: Letters or email, doesn't matter--ease does

    The reason why 'letters are better than email' comes up is quite simple, really. Self-editing. Most written letters, in he opinions of editors and publishers, show more thought than an email. It is the speed at which an email or online comment can be created and sent that tends to be the downfall. When you write, you are forced to think more carefully, and are more prone to creating something 'worthy.'

    Personally, I do not buy it. The people that rip off an email without cooling down or thinking are the same ones that would have banged out a sloppy, illegible letter that would have gotten wadded up for the garbage bin 3-pointer.

    It still comes down to people not taking the time to think about what they are creating before hitting that 'Send' button or 'Submit' link. That is where the frustration really begins, but again, we're dealing with printed media, and we've seen again and again how they react to such things as the 'interwebs.'

     

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  20.  
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    Angry of London, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 10:11am

    Letter

    Dear Sir,
    No,
    Yours sincerely,
    Mr Angry
    London

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 12:58pm

    @ #11, you cannot ship anthrax thru an e-mail but you can in a letter, and if you have a business address you can try to break in or bomb the place. Sure you could send a computer virus but those are *typically* easily detected and eradicated.

    That might be the reason why companies rather just get an e-mail than give you their address.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 1:35pm

    Re: from the the-conversation-has-changed dept

    I think that was a quote... it was inset and italicized, which is the correct way to display a quoted paragraph. So STFU

     

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  23.  
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    mike, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 2:19pm

    Letters to editor button on most sites

    Thanks to me writing comments, letters to the editor, i have contact many many people in my effort to get support in winning a contest by Timberland to pay start-up cost, i really think because of letters to the editor helped me out alot, because i would Google news my topic and relay my cause to all who are also reading the authors work......reach the world at the click of a button....i do agree alot of it results in unproductive results, but there are some real good things that can come from the internet

     

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  24.  
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    Michael Long, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 2:39pm

    Moderation

    "... but only if they chose your comment out of a pile of others, and then it would likely be edited down anyway."

    In other words, it was a moderated forum. A practice that still continues even today. Even TechDirt, I imagine, moderates comments threads and removes excessive profanity, off-topic posts, blatant advertisements, and so on.

    Editing is necessary when you have a limited amount of space. And when you want to eliminate the significant content that may be of interest to your readers from the background noise.

    In fact, from a certain perspective TechDirt still does a variation of the same exact thing today, in that Mike will occasionally respond to well-considered comments and positions, and completely ignores the comments that are for all intents and purposes "noise" (RIAA suckz!) that contribute little to the conversation.

    And I expect that the Vice editors are complaining about too few of the former and too many of the later.

     

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  25.  
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    Michael Long, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 2:48pm

    Speaking of editing...

    And speaking of editing, just how many article submissions does TechDirt receive, but not publish? How many aren't well written, are off-topic, aren't interesting, are duplicates, or simply don't contribute to the "message" that you want to send to your readers?

    Even an online publication like TechDirt has a limited amount of space, time, and viewer attention. And can afford to squander little of it.

    Gatekeepers, indeed. Or if you prefer a more literary quote, "The more things change..."

     

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  26.  
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    zcat, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 3:23pm

    Re: Re: Letters or email, doesn't matter--ease does

    The people that rip off an email without cooling down or thinking are the same ones that would have banged out a sloppy, illegible letter that would have gotten wadded up for the garbage bin 3-pointer.

    That's exactly the point. For every letter worth reading, there are probably dozens of ill-thought-out rants that the writer decided a few hours later weren't worth the envelope or postage or the walk down to the corner postbox to send. It's self-filtering. The incoherent rants still get written, but for the most part only the ones worth reading get sent.

    In the case of email they rant, click send, and the editor has to wade through the crap looking for something worth printing.

     

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  27.  
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    Cixelsid, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 4:11pm

    Re: You're totally missing the point

    You sound like my dad complaining about how typewriters used to work so much better than keyboards. People have and always will write crap, paper letters or otherwise. The fact that you posted your piece of subjective garbage is proof of that. Go back to bed grandma.

     

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  28.  
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    Censorship or Editorial control, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 5:35pm

    Re: Censorship?

    Newspapers tend not to print letters that do not support their position, or are critical of agencies in the government. Aside from that they do not want to waste space that is more profitable if given over to advertisements.
    What newspapers do you read?

    I've written a half dozen "letters to the editor" to the local newspapers (all sent by email, not US Mail), all critical of the newspaper's editorial page position, and 4 out of 6 of these opposing letters have been published.

    The local papers specifically state that they print supportive/opposing letters in approximately the ratio they receive, and most of the letters they print tend to be people critical of their position, probably because that is a stronger motivation to write in.

     

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  29.  
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    Another Mothers Brother, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 6:52pm

    Re: You're totally missing the point

    How do you know what was being written to the editors? I would guess for every 3 letters they published there were a thousand more that hit the round file bin.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2008 @ 8:01pm

    You really believe that bloggers are not as a whole bad writers who know nothing about good journalism and good commentary? Wow, are you deluded.

     

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  31.  
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    John, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 1:16am

    Fits In Well With Moronic Corporations

    This fits in well with an entry I did a while back in one of my blogs, questioning why so many small companies have an apparent email address for product enquiries, but when you attempt to contact them the mailbox is full, or they simply don't respond, and large corporations and government departments, especially (Canadian Members of Parliament) who fail to respond as a means of avoiding accountability or involvement.
    I cannot for the life of me see the difference between the contents of an email I send, and a letter I would have sent previous to internet life, except that the emails should be more readable as editing is easier with word processing as opposed to a pen. And the 'journalism' (whatever that means) is probably as poor on one as on the other.
    My only thought beyond this is that maybe this outfit mentioned published letters on the basis of the pretty flower stickers and garbage, and not content.

     

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  32.  
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    Trevlac, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 2:16am

    Ironically, most of the comments I read on Techdirt's reply field are equally as half-assed as the ones described by the Vice magazine writers.

     

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  33.  
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    GTFO, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 3:46am

    Re:

    Dear Trevlac,

    We at TechDirt wholeheartedly thank you for your thoughtful and somewhat asinine response. While it's difficult to discern if the "Powers That Be" you accepted in your life have provided you with gifts of "Deadpan Humor" we've decided to ask you to chill out for at least 14 days.

    Should you believe you have said gifts, please continue commenting. However, understand that future comments will be judged against the works of late 1998+ Jerry Seinfeld, as that seems to be the comedic standard of the current day.

    Best Regards,

    The people who create half-assed comments at TechDirt

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 5:15am

    Re: Re:

    The committee has spoken, Trevlac!!!

    LOL!

     

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  35.  
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    Passerby, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 5:19am

    Re: Re: Re:

    This could be interesting...

     

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  36.  
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    Ned Hackett, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 7:52am

    Re: You're totally missing the point

    I agree. There is no reason that an email can't be well written. People are in too much of a hurry, don't or can't organize their thoughts and when disagreeing - they lack respect for the other side of the issue. Perhaps newspapers should start printing emails to the editor and not just snail mail letters - or maybe providing a place where they can read on line without editing.

     

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  37.  
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    Thom, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 10:09am

    Re:Censorship and Anthrax

    Good for you #28 that you've gotten letters published that are contrary to the newspaper's views. Did you ever stop to think that maybe your newspaper is in the minority or may soon be?

    I know of three regional newspapers which very rarely print opposing opinions and when they do the letters are so poor that they shouldn't have been printed. The papers weren't always this way, but that changed after they were bought out by the same company. Now their news, and especially their opinion pages, are slanted ala Fox News.

    @AC in post #21 - Anthrax? You work for the Bush Administration or the RNC don't ya? Gotta keep pushing that non-existant threat...

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 10:51am

    In theory, it certainly seems evident that one could write an email as grammatically correct, well-reasoned, and rounded as a paper letter. The language is the same, the letters do not differ, and the person composing both has not changed.

    In practice, however, it is easy to see a difference. A quick visit to YouTube and a perusal of the contents will show a somewhat lower average quality. Somehow, the ladder of coherency starts with "txting," then unsigned comments on various forums, next posts attached to one's name, then blog posts, and perhaps ending at the paper letter.

    Again, I speak in the broadest sense. I am probably the only person I know who strains to appropriately use capitalization and punctuation in a text message. I have been sent paper letters that might have been composed by a second grader. Still, when one deals with thousands of missives, generalities are not only applicable, but crucial.

    This effect is not limited to communication. The saying goes that one can write FORTRAN in any programming language, but in reality, we see certain cultures spring up around each programming language. It does not surprise me in the least that differing methods of communication attract different levels of writing. "It's just text" is not an approach which maps well to reality.

    It is not merely that the price of a stamp closes the spam loophole; the additional effort of composing, printing, folding, stuffing, stamping, and mailing seems to act as a filter excluding those who want to grunt out support or disapproval.

    In fact, if the newspapers, magazines, and other monthlies want to continue (and I think they do), becoming just like every other phpBB forum on Earth is hardly the way to do it. They must offer something which is both distinct and special. That has been your mantra in so many places; surely you can see its value here. Otherwise, we might as well just close up shop and churn out endless series of bulletin boards, then hope to survive on Google Ads.

    By being dismissive of the whole thing, you've essentially lost a place to make your views heard. I cannot tell you how many times that some media outlet such as NPR has interviewed some hack about computing topics, one who fails to look at more than one side of the story, folks who just plain get facts horribly wrong or ignore intriguing angles.

    Don't sneer at solicited letters to the editor - you're not only denying yourself an opportunity, but, in a way, acting against your own stated principles.

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 2:31pm

    It is awesome being me.

    Hello, my name is Mike. I am technology elitist. If I cannot do something with modern technology then it is not worth doing. I am better than everyone else, because I use the internet for all of my needs. You poor ignorant slobs who only have dialup. You are the true terrorists.

     

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  40.  
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    Overcast, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 3:44pm

    Newspapers tend not to print letters that do not support their position, or are critical of agencies in the government.

    Exactly, I never got a reply in years past on a 'letter to the editor' nor every got a reply from one.

    I got to where I wouldn't bother.

    Not going to worry about it now, either.

     

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  41.  
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    James, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 6:26pm

    Not just paper organs

    It's not just physical publications. Earlier today, I went to make a comment on the ABC news website and it asked me to register. I considered giving up at that point, but no, I decided my point was important enough to take the time to do so. But then it asked my date of birth. WTF? I gave up; there's no reason for them to need to know my date of birth.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 6:39pm

    Re: Not just paper organs

    To know your age, genius. I swear people on this site are really stupid for being a bunch of elitists.

     

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  43.  
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    Rodney, Aug 24th, 2008 @ 11:33pm

    Re: from the the-conversation-has-changed dept

    THANK YOU! Very eloquently stated. I have made your exact point when it comes down to commenting on a subject in other forums. People should not be allowed to use such foul language when posting a comment on a web-site, and especially if it has nothing to do with the topic. Thank you once again sir for speaking your mind as a genleman! I couldn't of said it better myself.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 4:38am

    People still write letters to the editor. The problem is they're all crazy people.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 5:00am

    Lots of People write letters to the Editor;

    People named; George Will, Rush Limbaugh, William Saphire, Jim Baker, etc. The Op Ed page is now about syndicated collumnists echoing what they believe readers want to hear. Its not about the opinion of the man on the street, even the other men on the street dont give a crap what he thinks.

     

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  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 5:47am

    Re: Re: Not just paper organs

    Wow, for mocking someone else, you sure aren't very bright yourself. DOB is personally identifiable information. If they want to know age, ask for age. I'm sure #41 understood why they asked, but asking for DOB to get that is ham-handed at best, and really accomplishes nothing since I can lie regardless of what they ask. It's an example of yet another company asking for more information than they need.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Pope Ratzo, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 6:11am

    If you were to read the op-ed pages of the New York Times or Washington Post, you would find that indeed people still do write letters to the editor.

    The problem is, they are all employees of Right-Wing think tanks, National Review wankers or conservative talk-show hosts.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 6:52am

    Re: Letters in General

    This is true. Emails don't preclude this, though. I send out more "actual letters" with email than I did with snail mail. The 'problem' is that email allows for shorter dialog-like conversations that were at-best inredibly inefficient with snail mail.

    When you're sittingf with a friend over coffee, you don't ramble on and on and on, one-sided; you say a few lines and they respond and you reply and the conversation grows like that. The 'problem' is that email and blogging are making letters and 'news' more like regular conversations that we all have all the time. There's nothing sad about that.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 7:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Letters or email, doesn't matter--ease does

    Yeah, 'cause there's certainly no way for the community to self-filter using a rating system that 'hides' crappy comments and highlights good ones.

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 7:07am

    Re: You're glossing over a key issue

    Techdirt doesn't do it, but lots of other forums (Slashdot and Digg come to mind) have systems for community-filtering and moderator-filtering. There are arguments for and against this. I'm a fan of Techdirt's method because it avoids the inevitable "tyrany of the majority."

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 7:12am

    Re:

    You really believe that newspaper writers as a whole are good writers and care much about good journalism and commentary? Wow, are you deluded.

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 7:17am

    Re: Re: Not just paper organs

    Thanks for clearing that up, Sherlock. But it still leaves the question: why do they need my age?

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 9:12am

    Re: from the the-conversation-has-changed dept

    Yes, he could do it on any public medium. There are few laws against it. Now, it probably wouldn't happen in, say, a newspaper, but language like that happens in a ton of printed magazines and Internet sites. If you call magazines, newspapers, and the Internet the biggest word mediums (I can't think of any others), then two out of three say that the modern language he uses is perfectly acceptable- but that Elizabethean speech patterns are not. Doth thou understand?

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Not just paper organs

    Because there are laws regarding how children are allowed to use the Internet, child generally being defined as someone that is twelve years of age and younger. Somehow, somewhere, the Internet was duped into doing a parents job... And now the 'children' just put a false age to bypass it...

     

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  55.  
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    Torazarot, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 9:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Not just paper organs

    They probably want your age because of COPPA (http://www.coppa.org/).

     

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  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 11:47am

    Re: Re: from the the-conversation-has-changed dept

    If you call magazines, newspapers, and the Internet the biggest word mediums (I can't think of any others)...

    Those little, bitty things called "radio" and "television" just aren't very big, are they? But wait, that would undermine your argument, wouldn't it? Better forget about them then.

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Sir..., Aug 25th, 2008 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Letters to the editor... UK stylee

    Dear Sir,

    Re: Letters to the Editor, 23rd Aug 2008.

    Khromm,

    Bottom right, check mate...

    Yours sincerely,
    Twotimer
    London

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 1:07pm

    Re: Not just paper organs

    I think there alot of people out there like me with the DOB 01/01/1990.... it says your over 18 without giving anything else away.... it at least saves time on two drop downs!

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    sometimes thoughtful, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 1:57pm

    Think, type, Review, Revise - Then press 'send'!

    Mike,

    Sometimes you are wrong!

    The reason I read your site is:

    1. You often have an interesting 'take' on various topics.
    2. In general your contributors add to my understanding.

    What I want to read is a well expressed point. The problem with email is that one is more often apt to 'write in hast, and regret at leisure'. One feature of email that I think would help is a 'delayed' send mail button.

    This would let you dash off the email, send it. And an hour later stop it from being delivered - saving you from making a fool of yourself.

    The act of writing a paper letter to the editor provided
    time to review and correct 'your first draft'.

    Sometimes the very best letters (from the readers perspective) are those NOT SENT!

    PS I do think you are correct most of the time.
    Keep up the good work. And to you writers - thank you!
    (and keep writing! )

    [Crossing my fingers - hoping I am not making a fool of myself.]

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 3:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: from the the-conversation-has-changed dept

    You're right, I did forget about them because I was thinking of the written word. I also forgot books. I apologize for my mistake.

    But if we include them, we include Howard Stern and HBO and all kinds of books, and it becomes five out of six mediums where it's perfectly acceptable language for adults to use, read, and hear.

    And if people don't like to hear it, or don't like thier kids to hear it, they should change the station, put down the book or magazine, or click the big red 'x' in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

    :)

     

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  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 25th, 2008 @ 9:45pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: from the the-conversation-has-changed dept

    But if we include them, we include Howard Stern and HBO and all kinds of books, and it becomes five out of six mediums where it's perfectly acceptable language for adults to use, read, and hear.
    Bzzzt, wrong again. "Howard Stern" as you call it (actually satellite radio) and HBO are private subscription services, not the "public medium" as you termed it. And neither are "all kinds of books" available to just anyone. Certain kinds of books for example are restricted and intended to be available only to consenting adults, not children. So just because you saw it or heard it in some hardcore porno flick, for example, that does not meant that it is just "modern language" and "perfectly acceptable".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 10:36am

    Re: It is awesome being me.

    I know I shouldnt . . . but that one was kinda funny

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: from the the-conversation-has-changed dept

    Howard Stern may be on satellite radio now but he sure didn't get his start there. And you hear curse words, such as 'hell' and 'damn', on everything from family shows to Internet sites aimed at children such as www.neopets.com.

    Magazines and newspapers are available by private subscription services. For that matter, you have to pay for books and, for the most part, the Internet. It costs to be able to read and see all of those mediums. Nice strawman you knocked down there.

    As for the 'consenting adults' bit, that's your second strawman. I never restricted the definition of acceptable language to be language available to children and neither did you - until your argument falls farther. Good try, though. Kids should drink milk but it doesn't mean that adults can't drink soda.

    Remember that big red 'x', though...

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 4:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: from the the-conversation-has-changed dept

    Howard Stern may be on satellite radio now but he sure didn't get his start there.
    So? Since you introduced him as a source of "perfectly acceptable" language I would like to point out that he has said that one of the things he like about being on a satellite is that he can say things that would have been unacceptable on radio. He should know, he and his crew were once fired for saying unacceptable things on the radio. Good example there.
    And you hear curse words, such as 'hell' and 'damn', on everything from family shows to Internet sites aimed at children such as www.neopets.com.
    Huh? I can hear those words in church and they sure don't compare to what can be heard on the Howard Stern Show or HBO. So what's you point? Are you trying to backtrack?
    Magazines and newspapers are available by private subscription services. For that matter, you have to pay for books and, for the most part, the Internet. It costs to be able to read and see all of those mediums.
    And the public display of some of what can be found there would be a criminal offense violating community standards. Again, that's not exactly what I would call "perfectly acceptable".
    Nice strawman you knocked down there.
    You should learn what words mean before you start using them. Click here. The argument that what can be found on Howard Stern, HBO, and in "all kinds" of books constitute what is publicly acceptable was your argument, not mine and so I'm knocking your argument down, not mine. But why let the truth get in the way, eh Rose?
    As for the 'consenting adults' bit, that's your second strawman.
    No, it is pointing out that "all kinds of books" includes those (adults only) which are not "any public medium", as you tried to characterize them. Again, no straw man there. Only your own weak argument falling down.
    I never restricted the definition of acceptable language to be language available to children and neither did you - until your argument falls farther.
    You said "any public medium". The last time I checked the public included children. So yes, you did include children, no straw man there either. That's the thing about a forum where you can't go back and change what you wrote earlier, Rose, everyone can look right up above and see it. You may convince yourself otherwise, but good luck with the rest of us.
    Remember that big red 'x', though...
    Hey, here's an idea. Maybe newspapers could boost their dwindling subscription rates by including hardcore porno sections! After all, it's on the internet so it must be "perfectly acceptable". People who don't like it could just turn past those pages. They could even put red X's on the corners of those page to help the easily offended identify and skip them! (that's sarcasm, Rose)

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 5:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: from the the-conversation-has-changed dept

    You sure do seem to have a thing about hardcore pornography. I wonder why, since we're not talking about hardcore pornography, or any kind of pornography, for that matter. Really, if saying the word 'fuck' is inappropriate, isn't randomly talking about hardcore pornography also inappropriate?

    We were discussing acceptable language, specifially whether or not the language in the original blog post was acceptable. I did not say that all kinds of language everywhere were acceptable. As a matter of fact, I mentioned one form of language that is not generally acceptable, although it can be found in books, magazines, and television, although probably not the radio or in newspapers.

    The argument that what can be found on Howard Stern, HBO, and in "all kinds" of books constitute what is publicly acceptable was your argument, not mine and so I'm knocking your argument down, not mine.

    No, actually, you stated that it wasn't acceptable anywhere else and that meant it wasn't acceptable here. I refuted your argument by stating that it is more acceptable than not in the places you said it wasn't.

    Public means 'exposed to the general view' and 'a place accessible or visible to the public'. That means that any book or magazine that can be found in a Borders at the mall (another public place), any website that can be easily found on the Internet (I would say any site not password protected or otherwise hidden), or any channel that you can find on a television, is exposed to the general view and accesible and visible to the public, and is therefore a public medium.

    If you look at the words in the original post, you can also find them in almost every other public medium that your and I have been able to think of. Therefore, by your argument, it is acceptable language.

    And newspapers could certainly do so, in places where it is legal to do so. I don't read paper news reports and won't until they include items of interest to me, such as local news and calendars. However, I'm certain that they would boost thier rates if they did. However, I'm in Oklahoma, so you can't find hardcore pornography, which is a shame because it means that Texas gets all of the pornography revenue and Oklahoma misses out.

    I believe that newspapers should be able to print whatever they like. After all, no one is making you purchase it or read it. And I'm much more offended by your high-handedness than I would be by a 5x7 of a donkey fucking a college girl in the ass. So it goes to show that what's acceptable varies from person to person and if you don't want to see things that offend you, you should refrain from purchasing or viewing them.

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 5:55pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: from the the-conversation-has-changed dept

    You sure do seem to have a thing about hardcore pornography. I wonder why, since we're not talking about hardcore pornography, or any kind of pornography, for that matter.
    It's just an example of what is included in "the Internet" and "all kinds of books" that you used for defining "perfectly acceptable". Of course, I can see why you'd rather not have that fact pointed out.
    No, actually, you stated that it wasn't acceptable anywhere else and that meant it wasn't acceptable here.
    Now that's just not true, Rose. Again anyone can just look right up above to see what was actually said. You know what they call people who don't tell the truth, don't you? And if you're not going to be truthful then there's really not much point in debating you.
    I believe that newspapers should be able to print whatever they like. After all, no one is making you purchase it or read it. And I'm much more offended by your high-handedness than I would be by a 5x7 of a donkey fucking a college girl in the ass.
    Well, your idea of "perfectly acceptable" is certainly different from mine. Is that the kind of "perfectly acceptable" material your kids are looking at when they're not busy abusing other kids at school (for their own good, of course)?

    Like I said, Rose, your dishonesty tends to make me think you're not worth responding to anymore.

     

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  67.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2008 @ 6:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: from the the-conversation-has-changed dept

    Oops, don't know what happened to that link. Here it is again.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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