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So…How about writing a few letters?

Mitch Berg is my favorite blogger. Which is why this post is going to be a little painful for me, but Mitch touched on one of my pet peeves of blogging:

Observation: The Strib, when they publish a conservative’s letter to the editor at all, will usually publish precisely one letter in the mail section. It has seemed to me that that letter was frequently chosen for caricaturic effect; the right-wing letter-writer was frequently inarticulate, enraged, and from what we’d call the “tinfoil hat” community; in short, many conservative letters to the editor seem to be chosen to detract rather than advance the conservative case in an argument, not to mention unbalance the argument to the left.

Okay Mitch, why don’t you write some letters and find out if the process is biased or not? I have had (since I left the U) 4 letters to the editor published in the last year. Not a lot by any standard, but the Strib has not failed to publish any of my letters. I have also had a few columns published. In fact, I haven’t had any of my work rejected by any editor in almost two years. (I shoot small though, local papers primarily)

This may be a surprise Mitch, but the only reason the Strib publishes bad letters of any sort is because that is mostly what they get.

And maybe there is some bias. Maybe the Strib won’t publish your letter. Perfect, mention it on the blog, make a big deal and show the true biases. Try fake names and fake addresses, send crazy liberal letters and crazy conservative ones and compare how often they were published. Have fun with it. But don’t just complain about low quality letters when you haven’t tried to get some of your high quality ones published. It doesn’t take long at all, a good letter should be under 250 words. A column should run from 550 to 660 words.

The Letters to the Editor section is one of the most widely read in any newspaper, so it’s very effective to shoot a few off once in a while.

As far as this sin goes, Mitch isn’t too bad about it. He has a radio program, a widely read blog and he does the occasional speech. But for some of you other bloggers out there, get out and do something. Write a letter, volunteer somewhere, host an awesome Danish event, counter protest, whatever. Blogging ain’t enough. (Of course, I’m a paid conservative activist, so I’m a little biased).

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7 Responses

  1. blogging isn’t enough?!?!? marty, say it ain’t so!

  2. Marty,

    Thanks for the compliments!

    I wrote many letters to the Strib over the years. I got several published, up to and through the early nineties.

    I noticed that the more authoritative my letters – for example, the ones attacking the likes of Wes Skoglund and Alan Spear on gun control, for example – the less likely I was to get published.

  3. Like I said Mitch, you’re pretty solid. I think it would be great blogger fodder to write letters to the Strib and see which ones get published and which ones don’t and make a record. Something solid you can use to prove bias. You could even make a game of it, signing under false names and such, spelling errors, whatever. The Strib pays some attention to blogs now, so it made even help ameliorate the problem.

    Having worked for my school newspaper, and being good friends with some local paper editors, I know that for the most part, papers publish what they get. I don’t think there’s any conspiracy to publish bad letters.

    Really, this post is more or less addressed to others who only blog and aren’t active otherwise, either in a political party, non-profit, campaign or church.

    I’d also like more quality writers to write letters.

  4. Oh sure, “the more authoritative ones” didn’t get published. Maybe they just get sick of hearing from reason-challenged gun nuts.

    Keep living your fantasies, Mitch. Maybe you can write about your other fantasy–serving in the military.

  5. Marty,
    You raise the cutest trolls. Look at him.

  6. I don’t think this one is mine, I think Mitch dragged this one over here. Mine are so much more foul-mouthed.

  7. Mitch Berg’s home page:

    http://tinyurl.com/qkor

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