I'm going to sit down and write myself a letter
by Larry Penner
Apr 13, 2010 | 6833 views | 0 0 comments | 139 139 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Do you follow the letters to the editor in your favorite daily or weekly newspaper? Surveys reveal that this is one of the most widely read and popular sections of any newspaper. In 2009 alone, the paper in your hand published 312 letters to the editor.

Weekly newspapers in Queens offer readers a chance to speak out. Periodically, you may see some familiar names, including myself, John Amato, Fred Bedell, Lawrence Burke, Patricia Dolan, Henry Euler, Tom Nolan, Zack Pal, Vytautas Vileniskis, and many others gracing the letters section of your favorite newspaper.

Many of us have opinions on news not only from Washington, Albany, and City Hall, but also neighborhoods and local issues which impact our communities and daily lives. However, being a prolific letter writer doesn't guarantee publication on a regular basis by anyone. It helps to have a snappy introduction, good hook, and to be timely and precise. Having an interesting or different viewpoint may increase your odds of being published. Many papers welcome letters commenting on their own editorials, articles, or previously published letters.

Fortunately, ours is a free society with many sources of information. Sadly, the internet is eroding readership. Many cities and suburbs are down to one local daily or weekly newspaper. Unlike internet news, papers have to deal with the increasing costs for printing and distribution along with reduced advertising revenues and declining readership.

I am grateful that this paper has afforded both myself and my fellow letter writers the opportunity to express our views, as well as differing opinions on issues of the day. Thanks to you, ordinary citizens have the freedom to comment on the actions and legislation of elected officials.

Public officials use taxpayers dollars to promote their views via mass mailings, news releases, and guest opinion columns. In many cases, they are produced or written by campaign or office staffers who are paid for by taxpayers. The rest of us have limited time to submit a letter. Let us thank those few brave souls who are willing to take on the establishment and powerful special interest groups by writing. They fill a valuable niche in the information highway.

Please join me and your neighbors in reading your favorite weekly community newspapers. Patronize their advertisers; they provide the revenues necessary to keep them in business. Let them know you saw their ad. This is what helps keep our neighbors employed, the local economy growing, and provides space for your favorite or not-so-favorite letter writers.

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