When you run out of letters to the editor

In a more innocent time — back in the late 1990s — I was the editor of the editorial pages of the News & Record. As part of that, I read, selected and edited the letters to the editor. The letters gave you a real feel for the community — the paper still had about 50 percent circulation penetration in our county then. Note I said “real” as opposed to “good” or “accurate.” (There was one letter writer who often said he was going to come downtown and whip my ass. He never did.)

Back then, we limited writers to one letter every 30 days; it’s two letters now, thank you, declining readership. We had space for about five letters every day, and people submitted many more than that. So, we usually had plenty of letters to choose from.

But during the Christmas holidays and the humid, slow-moving, “it’s-too-hot-to-even-move” depths of summer, letters would slow to a trickle, and I’d scramble to fill the space.

Dave Dubuisson, who was my predecessor as editorial page editor and who remained as associate editor, taught me most of what I know about the job. He was — and still is — an astute thinker and insightful writer. His sense of humor was also as dry as James Bond’s martini.

I bemoaned the lack of letters one day.

He said, “That’s OK. I’ll just write about gun control. That will solve the problem.”

(He didn’t.)

 

2 thoughts on “When you run out of letters to the editor

  1. It is said that one year when the Charlotte Observer was running low on letters to the editor during the lazy days of summer, Editor Pete McKnight called his friend Harry Golden and urged Harry to write a letter calling for the execution of all the stray dogs and cats in the city. He did, I’m told, and it generated enough responses to bill the letters space for weeks. I have done zero fact-checking on this, but it does sound like something both men would do.

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