May 16, 2012

SandBoxBlogs: Aspen Daily News "The history of LTEs"

Andrew Kole:
"Letters to the editor (LTEs) have been an important feature of American newspapers since the beginning of their publication.

A great deal of the news reports and commentaries published by early-American newspapers were delivered in the form of letters.

By the mid-18th century, LTEs were a dominant carrier of political and social discourse. Many influential essays about the role of government in matters such as personal freedoms and economic development took the form of letters, and so by the turn of the 20th century LTEs had become permanent fixtures of the opinion pages.....

.......The latter is a fairly recent development in LTE management. Prior to the Cold War, anonymous LTEs were common; the right to write anonymously was central to the free-press/free-speech movement.

By the 1970s, editors had developed strong negative attitudes toward anonymous letters, and by the end of the 20th century, about 94 percent of newspapers automatically rejected anonymous LTEs.

Some newspapers in the 1980s and ’90s created special anonymous opinion forums that allowed people to either record short verbal opinions via telephone (which were then transcribed and published) or send letters that were either unsigned or when the author used a pseudonym.

Aspen’s very own Roger Marolt used a form of pseudonym in the greatest LTE hoax Aspen has ever seen, resulting in the well received excerpt of the Aspen Times’ book “Letter’s To The Editor.”.....

......Defenders argued that anonymous
forums upheld the free-press tradition of vigorous, uninhibited debate similar to that found in earlier newspapers. But again, those defenders are often a bit obscure in respect to putting even their names to this defensive position......

....Last year the Aspen Times finally stopped publishing their online hate mail forum by anonymous persons when pressure from the public hit a new high, along with the vicious content of the comments......

......As a relatively consistent writer of LTEs for the last 13 years, I say congratulations LTE writers, and to our local papers who publish them.

Write on......."  (Read more?  Read without breaks?  Click title)

"Unapologetic pursuit and tracking of patterns within the news others make since 2010."

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