Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Stern Letter to the Times

Rainfall since 1 Sept: 1.25 inches

So, quietly, the Seattle Times has dropped its letters to the editor on its editorial page, in the continued shrinking of this major metropolitan newspaper.

I have mixed emotions about this. On one hand, our letters to the editor are not always the most inspired, but it is always nice to see global warming deniers crawl out of the woodwork after every cold snap ("I had frost on my windshield this morning! Take THAT, Al Gore!"), and an easy method to astroturf (multiple identical letters showing up from supposedly different sources). On the other, it reduces the community nature of the newspaper audience.

Now, they are going to showcase one letter a day as a link to push traffic to their new blog, but that's hardly the same thing. It is not the rich variety of the normal LttE section, where you can find left complaining about right, right complaining about left, and the regular traffic outrage.

The traditional LttE also are, well, edited, which is something that's not a forte for the online world. As the LttE becomes a group blog, the attention to the individual letters drops off. I always felt that the editors worked to soften the letters they received and make the writers look LESS like screaming nutbars. Indeed, reading the letters in "Grandpa Simpson" voice is a source of merriment. And the fact that they are doing this right before an election is madness, simply madness.

Still, life and technology moves on. We're down to a single page, now, with the company opinion, a couple syndicated columnists you've already read online, Doonesbury, and a political cartoon gently chiding the Republicans. I'm spending less time with that section, and so the slow downward spiral of the print media continues.

But if they touch Doonesbury, I am SO outa there.

More later,