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Question about letters to the editor

Post by Cheryl Tucker on May 10, 2010 at 4:29 pm with 8 Comments »
May 10, 2010 4:29 pm

A reader had a question pertaining to our new way of handling letters to the editor. Why, she wondered, was the publication date of a letter on the online blog different than the day it was published in the print edition?

The reason is that letters that are approved for publication in the print edition also go immediately to the blog. But they might not get into the paper for a day or two — or even longer, depending on space. The letter she was asking about went online May 4 but didn’t make it into print until two days later.

Many letters now go directly to the blog only, and a few still are rejected. Reasons for rejection of recent letters include that they’re not printable even with “light editing,” we’ve determined that they’re taken almost verbatim from some special interest website, they include very outrageous claims that we’re uncomfortable passing along or they’re really more appropriate going somewhere else (Applause, the Reader Representative, etc.).

Leave a comment Comments → 8
  1. Publico says:

    Cheryl,
    However slightly, it diminishes the purchased paper’s value when the letters are available in the blog in advance of publication.
    Why not try keeping the printed letters out of the blog stack until after they are printed.
    We can get used to almost anything, however.

  2. Cheryl Tucker says:

    Publico:

    This was a question we mulled, but in the end decided to go with immediate publishing for three reasons.

    First, we figure that most people read the letters in print OR online, but not as many read them both ways.

    Second, sometimes letters approved for print linger in our “hold” file past the time they’re still fresh – and they end up getting thrown out. Now that they’re going on the blog also, at least they get published in one format.

    Third, letters approved for print tend to be the timeliest, most interesting ones. We don’t want to hold those back from our online readers.

  3. Publico says:

    Cheryl,
    I am reading letters in the printed edition I saw three days ago in the blog. That is not timely in my book. It makes the blog timely and I would think that the paper should be timely in this respect. Letters are not breaking news, but they are fresh from your readers even if they have been waiting for a few days.
    A news paper is about what is new and “fresh.” Seeing stuff that has already been online is a page turner. So much is like that already that it makes letters interesting.
    Just my take. Ask around. I can live with the decision.

  4. witchiwoman says:

    I noticed the opposite problem, and wrote to the Reader Rep, but still haven’t gotten an answer. May 10 in the print paper had current letters to the editor, but the online version only went to May 7th.

  5. witchiwoman says:

    I just checked again. The online letters seem to have skipped from May 7th to May 10th. There are no letters for the 8th or the 9th online, and they were in the print version. They aren’t here though.

  6. cheryltucker says:

    Witchi:
    We post letters to the blog during the week, but not on weekends. That’s why you see a gap on May 8 and 9 – Saturday and Sunday.

    But if you look at the letters that were in print over the weekend, they ARE on the blog. You just have to scroll back a bit; they were posted during the week beforehand.

  7. cheryltucker says:

    Publico:

    If you look at the entire paper, almost EVERYTHING was on the online version first. For instance, the front-page photo today (Tuesday) of the Sanders family was online early afternoon Monday, as was most of the article it went with.

    That’s just the media world we live in now. As soon as we get something, we put it on the Web site. It’s refined for the print edition, and that goes for letters, too.

    When letters get posted to the blog, they are what we call “lightly edited.” Those letters selected to also go into the print edition get a closer read and more attention to the headline.

  8. witchiwoman says:

    thanks for the info, Cheryl. :)

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