So Many Letters

Morning in Iowa

Here’s a post I wrote about writing letters to the editor while working as a proof reader at a local weekly newspaper on Oct. 20, 2012. The newspaper in Iowa’s second largest city continues to print letters to the editor and guest opinions daily. The main newspaper in the county seat practically eliminated printing letters to the editor, now doing so maybe two days per week. Weeklies, like the one where I worked, are challenged with loss of advertising, consolidation with other newspapers, and an uncertain future. They welcome this free to them and engaging to their readers content. Letters to the editor of local newspapers play an important role in political campaigns and about anything else going on in small cities, towns and school districts. While it continues to exist, the letter to the editor is an effective way to gain readers’ attention. It reaches many multiples of the daily views a blog like mine or a social media post reaches.This is reprinted with limited editing.

Just returned from my job at the newspaper, where I had to work longer than usual to get through a spike in submitted letters to the editor… election and all. Many topics, some letters better written than others. Some writers I know well, others, not so much. More well written than poorly written, in fact all of them were understandable.

Which leads me to the question of why these same writers don’t take advantage of this forum, except when they have an axe to grind, cause to promote, or we are two weeks from a general election?

The small slice of the community that still reads newspapers is one of the most intelligent and articulate parts of our society, believe it or not. As a lowly proofreader, I earned extra pay for my time, so am grateful this day. But I know from experience the volume and time will drop off dramatically after the election.

So for Pete’s sake, spend 30 minutes a month and write a letter to the editor. You will feel better and it keeps us piecework wage earners in the green.