Letters to the Editor

Years ago a local woman regularly contributed to our newspaper’s11-15 writing letters page. Her pieces were well written and thought out. She wasn’t political or addicted to any organization or movement. She looked around, listened, made decisions and shared her viewpoint. If she missed a week, other writers wondered what happened to her. Definitely an institution, and the readership mourned her death. Sometimes a new scribe turned up, but it isn’t the same. For one, now the paper won’t publish any one person more than once a month. There must be other reasons. Perhaps they have other avenues of expression. Perhaps some are now bloggers with followers.

Sometimes I write to my newspaper. Once it was about a way out-dated front-page piece on medical procedures. (Something about it made me look up the original report cited. I learned it was compiled seven years before from queries compiled in the previous ten years and included the comment that it was deemed unreliable.) Some years ago it was more apt to involve absent coverage of our local school district activities (where my children were involved, naturally).

Not often, but occasionally, I’ll comment on something political. If I do, I’ll sign my name differently than I sign anything to do with my writing. That’s because, with the internet picking up everything, I once discovered my comment over a local issue right there, with my name, for everyone with a computer to see.

Okay, that’s good, right? Get your name out, can’t be bad. Except, the way I see it, our country is almost evenly divided, and very partisan. In fact, I see the same division within my friends and family. We all know which is which. We might even discuss our differences amicably. But that never happens in print. Don’t know why. Maybe it’s the newspaper with their unfunny cartoons lampooning both sides. It drives a wedge through a country that calls itself United. And, viewing all that angst, people take sides. They could easily say, “If she thinks that, I’m certainly not going to buy her books.” And who wants to alienate half of their possible readership?

So, do you write letters to the editor? Actually, I still do. Not often, I have other writing that calls me.