They say (and don’t ask who they are, because I’ll give you a long-winded answer) it’s important for publishers to engage readers in conversation.
I was thinking on this topic Saturday afternoon when picking my older daughter up from her local part-time job.
Infected with the same restless-when-not-active disease most of us suffer from these digital days, I took a few minutes before she emerged in the parking lot to Google from my iPhone some version of “What the heck should I write about today?”
The Internet machine delivered an immediate answer: reply to letters to the editor.
So, without further ado, I’ll get at it, replying to a sampling of published letters from last week. (And yes, I know, they’re letters to the editor, not letters to the publisher. Sue me, Martin).
“No matter what side of the fence you usually vote, the treatment we all got during the pandemic with extended mandates, lockdowns, and a lowering of our standard of life, we all have been thinking that this wasn’t what we wanted,” wrote Kimberly Morella of Lewisboro, in the opening of a letter where she explains her support of Gina Arena for New York State Senate.
While I’m not going to comment here on that particular race, Kimberly’s observations bring a topic to mind.
I sometimes wrestle with whether we should publish letters to the editor where residents express their preferences for a particular candidate during campaign season.
Does sharing letters like these advance the civic conversation, giving our audience a useful public forum to debate the races? Or does it just become a vehicle for free campaign advertising and empty rhetoric letter-writing campaigns?
I lean towards it being a net positive. Kimberly’s submission is a good example of how these types of letters can help initiate a productive political conversation. (What do you think?)
In fact, another one of our other letter writers from last week, Pete Friedrich of Mount Kisco, critiqued Arena on the issue of congestion pricing. He favors Senator Pete Harckham in the contest.
OK, I’ve convinced myself. Curated samples of political letters stay!
Speaking of initiating conversation, I love it when a letter sparks a reply message from a fellow reader. (As long as it doesn’t get out of hand).
“A recent letter to the editor about climate caught my attention (“Mother Nature Controls Climate Change, Not Humans,” September 27-October 3) and I’d like to offer some information that might be helpful,” James Connelly of Pleasantville began in his letter.
Connelly went on to suggest some light fare: “The Fourth National Climate Assessment,” a 1,500-page, two-part breezy beach read.
Kidding aside, I did poke around to find the report. And while I can’t say I’ve read it, I did read up a bit about it.
One aspect I found interesting was the timing of the congressionally-mandated assessment: it was unveiled in multiple parts, in 2017 and 2018, during Donald Trump’s presidency.
It might be my own ignorance on the issue, and perhaps the report is common knowledge — or was at the time — but I for one wasn’t aware of the Trump-era climate assessment.
While researchers acknowledging human activity as the fundamental cause of warming shouldn’t be a revelation, it struck me as noteworthy given the politics of the issue.
Anyway, we all have our reading assignment for the week. At least the CliffsNotes version. Thank you, James.
Publisher Adam Stone founded Examiner Media in 2007.