But why would a person write to Redbook extolling the great beauty and virtue of Eva Longoria? I have my own set of favorite actors… but I can barely imagine composing a sincere tweet about them, let alone writing multiple paragraphs and then sending them to a magazine for publication. That’s even more true in an era in which it’s so easy to do one’s gushing online, using less formal language. What compels an enthusiastic reader to let Entertainment Weekly know that this year’s fall TV preview was the best ever?
Ruth Graham, Meet the People Who Still Write Letters to the Editor, The Awl.
To answer the question, Ruth Graham interviews four writers of recent letters to the editor in People and Vanity Fair. While this is by no means representative of any kind of trend, three out of four of them are over the age of 60 and three out of four are or have been writers of some sort. Read about them here.
FJP: Here’s a personal thought on reading comments in print vs. online. I generally read about 4 magazines in print per month. I don’t subscribe to any, I just pick up what looks interesting at the train station when I’m visiting my folks. I always stop and read the letters section, both the letter from the editor and the letters to the editor. I do this because when reading in print, I feel I need to orient myself and get a grip on the identity of the publication in hand. It feels like a respectful thing to do. I feel compelled to perform this act of respect because holding an entire issue of a magazine in your hands makes you feel the weight of the effort that went into it. Perhaps it makes no sense, but I want to reciprocate.
The content of these letters to the editor are hardly ever more insightful or intriguing that comments people leave online. Yet because they get an entire printed page, I spend a few extra seconds pondering them than I would something online. And particularly because I’m a child of the age of millennial voyeurism, it’s a strange feeling to read letters to the editor in print and not get to internet stalk the people who wrote them. So, this Awl piece is a fun read. And something I’ve always been curious about. —Jihii
Somewhat related: A NY Times Magazine piece from last weekend on the history, future and quality of comments.
Part of the reason why many people (particularly geeks) dislike talking on the phone is that it forces both sides to be present at the same time, instead of allowing a user to consume or respond to the information at their own pace — or multi-task while they are doing so.
Ingram is talking about synchronous vs. asynchronous communication (ie: phone vs. e-mail or text) and how the proliferation of different kinds of communication technology has allowed people to develop different affinities for communication etiquette (depending on age/industry/how connected you are).
Both are interesting reads. The bottom line is that people have different preferences and we need to keep that in mind when we communicate with each other. Bilton, for example, writes of his distaste for communication that wastes your time (ie: leaving a voicemail when you can just send a text). Ingram, in a similar-but-different example, writes of the patience we need to develop for those who might not be at the same technological level we are (ie: don’t expect your parents to text you if they are just getting used to e-mail).
Sort of Related: Our recent post on How to Tweet Like a Buddha. It’s essentially a list of tips on how to be mindful on Twitter. How to remember that behind the screen is human being with a particular set of values, habits, preferences, and a particular level of knowledge, tech literacy and access to communication. So, in the same way we are mindful of how the person in front of us is receiving the information we convey, it’s worth being mindful of the person behind the screen. It’s an important mindfulness, I believe, that is sorely lacking in our attempts to navigate the technological literacy divides of our time.—Jihii
The article makes a point of quoting Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, for a contrary view on warming.
Why? If there was an earthquake, the Times would not seek out a denier of earthquakes. If this was an article on medicine, the Times would not automatically seek out the views of a homeopath or acupuncturist. If this was an article on astronomy, you (the Times) would not make an obligatory pilgrimage to the UFO community. Yet on climate change… you bow again and again to the immense vested interests that fund the climate denial industry. This does not give your readers balance – in fact, it distorts their views of the actual facts.
Mr Ebell’s organisation receives substantial funding from Exxon Mobil, a point not mentioned in this article.
Here are some proofreading tips culled from years of journalism tip sheets:
• Break your mind-set: Read the copy out loud. Read it silently, one word at a time. Read it backward and focus on the spelling of words. Print a copy. Preview it in a different application. Change the format or the screen resolution. Justify or unjustify the type. Take a break and return to it with fresh eyes.
• Use spelling checkers but don’t trust them. In particular, be aware of homophone confusion: complement and compliment, accept and except, effect and affect, oversees and overseas.
• Memorize frequently misspelled and misused words. Here’s a list:http://www.yourdictionary.com/library/misspelled.html.
• Beware of contractions and apostrophes: their and they’re, its and it’s, your and you’re.
• After reading for content and spelling, proofread separately for punctuation.
• Beware of doubled words at the end and start of a line. A doubled “that” will often slip right by if you let it.
• Double-check proper names and claims of distinction (first, best, oldest, tallest, etc.).
• Double-check little words that are often interchanged: or, of; it, is.
• Check all the numbers, especially any reference to millions, billions or trillions. Do the math. Do the math again.
• Set aside a regular time to review stylebook and usage rules. This includes backfield editors and reporters. If you don’t want someone to change your story on style grounds (and perhaps introduce an error), learn the basics and follow them.
• Be aware of dates and days of the week, especially in advance copy or copy that has been held. Be aware of references to next month/last month around the time the month is changing.
• Make a personal checklist of the things you tend to miss. Use it on every story.
• Have someone else, preferably a copy editor, read behind you.
Last of all, think of our readers — and care what they think of us.
In a Word
This week’s grab bag of grammar, style and other missteps, compiled with help from colleagues and readers.
One upon a time, the only thing that traveled faster than the speed of light was gossip.
Try proofreading one word at a time.
For the whole article (it’s a great read) see NY Times
For the whole article (it’s a great read) see NY Times
At the PaidContent Advertising conference last week, Flipboard CEO Mike McCue talked about Flipboard’s business model, relationship with publishers and the evolving world of content consumption across platforms and devices.
I just finished editing the above video.
PaidContent’s Amanda Natividad put a handy chart together comparing some of the leading news reader apps on the market today. For each company, the chart compares price, how content is aggregated, official content partners (if any), social networks used as content sources, ability for users to customize the experience, platforms supported, funding, and what makes each one special.
For consumers, there are now so many of these next-generation RSS readers that it can be daunting to keep them straight. But they have distinct differences. Some curate content with an algorithm, while others use a team of editors. Some have made partnerships with publishers, while some are charging ahead without them. And there are other differences too, in areas like customization, sharing and price. To see how some of the new aggregators stack up, check out our chart
- Amanda Natividad, paidContent.org
For 40 minutes last night, users had trouble accessing the New York Times home page due to technical errors. To temporarily fix the problem, the Times took Twitter to help viewers get to their articles smoothly, by tweeting them via their @nytimes handle. The Times tweeted its followers to update them on their status, and lastly thanking them after the problem was solved.
Will the paywall result in a single new reader coming to the New York Times? That seems unlikely at best. While it’s not impossible that someone might suddenly decide to pay for the paper despite not being a regular reader, it seems more likely that the people currently paying are die-hard NYT fans. And that’s great — although the comparison Salmon makes to a museum might cut a little close to home — but it’s hardly a forward-facing digital strategy, as I’ve argued in the past (and others have argued as well).
Read the whole article at GigaOm
Join the discussion, let us know what you think about the NYT paywall or just paywalls in general!
Three New York Times journalists are using the question-and-answer site Quora to engage with readers about their recently published books, Times Associate Managing Editor Jim Schachter wrote today. Schachter also said in the comments that this is a test. He followed up by email to say “We’ll have to see how it goes before we would even think about embedding Quora onNYTimes.com.” The series kicks off tomorrow with Diana Henriques answering questions from 3 to 4 p.m. EST about her Bernie Madoff book “Wizard of Lies.” Gretchen Morgenson and Adam Bryant will follow in the coming weeks.