Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Letters to the Editor
Dating to colonial times, letters to American newspaper editors have given ordinary citizens a way to publicly express their views on issues of the day—and to offer opinions on how those issues are covered. Published letters from readers enliven and personalize the news; they are among the most-read items in newspapers. Broadcasters, too, may air letters that illustrate both the relevance of their programs and the public spirited-ness of their audiences. Skilled and dedicated letter writers are so valued that some editors regularly host them at get-togethers to celebrate their contributions to public debate. Although it may be tempting for political leaders to consider letters to the editor a rough gauge of public opinion, letters fall well short of representing any scientific measure of what a community is thinking. Some people simply are more inclined and able than others to voice their opinions to the news media, and editors may ...