When I first started my newspaper career I didn’t read letters to the editor much if at all. But a late-night talk with a colleague as we put out the paper opened my mind to that form of expression and soon I was perusing letters in all publications I read.
I enjoyed the different opinions and styles of writing, and was amused by how many clever takes the letter writers had. Locally, you always notice where the letters come from but that becomes a bigger deal on the national level when someone from your area or even your hometown gets published.
But like many things — including regular letters to your mom, grandmother or anyone else — the letter to editor has become a little antiquated. With commenting available on websites — feel free to post yours at www.gwinnettdailypost.com — the ability to immediately state your opinion is available. As is your ability to debate those on the other side of the issue.
While the conversations that grow from those comments can be interesting and entertaining, they can — and many times do — segue into the name-calling and pettiness that are easily practiced in the anonymity of the forum. In their own way, these threads can be entertaining to readers as well, but they don’t serve much purpose as to furthering the dialogue.
A letter to the editor, however, is different, mainly because you have to sign your name. The comments contained in them can still be thought-provoking, snarky or even biting, but the fact that you’re willing to literally back your ideas up with your name makes them more, well, legitimate.
The Daily Post has had different letter writers from time to time who have been more vocal — and more proficient — than others. And on occasion those letter writers have taken a few lumps from fellow letter writers who disagreed with their views or maybe just got tired of hearing them.
I give those folks credit, though, for putting their names with their convictions. And I can say the same for those who wrote letters chastising them.
Commenting serves its purpose, and, like I said, can sometimes be very entertaining. But there’s something classic about a well-written, well-thought-out letter to the editor.
If you’d like to put your name on one, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
E-mail Todd Cline at email@example.com. His column appears on Wednesdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/toddcline.