Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.


Funny clash of perspectives in the International Herald Tribune newsroom!

In planning for my blog-based column, I chased down the actual number of letters to the editor we receive each day.

We receive at the IHT roughly 30 letters per day, of which 10-15 are usable, the letters editor said. We end up publishing roughly six.

Historical footnote: We formerly only accepted letters via post, then we accepted fax letters (by early 1990s) and now we almost exclusively receive letters via email.

For a daily newspaper printed in 31 print sites around the world and distributed in more than 150 countries, 30 letters per day struck me as very low, but several colleagues thought it was "a lot".

I sometimes get more than 20 responses - many publishable - for a single posting on this blog.

Once the blog-column is up and running I will be interested to see how many letters to the editor we can inspire. (For the newspaper as a whole, not just for the column.)

If you feel strongly about an article or issue, the email is and please mention this blog so we can get a sense of the level of blogger input.


That's very surprising - in most UK broadsheets (or Berliners, or 'quality tabloids'), up to 30 letters from readers are published every day, and I have no idea how many they must recieve.

Admittedly they all have higher circulation than the IHT, but, in some cases, not by much.

I am also very surprised there are only around 30 letters. I would have expected the daily number to be much, much higher.

It is a bit surprising, given the ease of email these days. OTOH, I would suspect the IHT is not being read as much by the housewife/retiree set, who seem to me at least to make up much of the letter-to-editor type. Also, the paper is probably being read by a lot of non-native English speakers who are using it to study/brush up on English, who may not feel comfortable submitting such a letter that might actually be published. Not to mention busy businessmen/execs sitting in airport lounges, etc....

Does this not suggest that the age of printing the news is about to be over?

it's the difference between letters to the editor and letters to the author. The NYT allows you to write letters to the opinionists, the IHT not.

i think the difference is that one expects to reach a live person behind a blog - the conversation is more intimate.

sending a letter to a newspaper feels less connected, less likely to matter.

that's why i think you get more emails than the iht.

I think the difference is simple: with a blog post, you write, you preview, you post, you read and your comment is guaranteed entry into the 'sphere - voilà, you are part of the conversation. With a letter to the editor you take the time to write but the odds seem to be that you won't get published. No doubt, it's cool to see your name in print (I have been lucky enough over the years to have been published a few times here and there) but sometimes the editorial filtering that necessarily goes own (newsprint = cost) is perhaps a disincentive to write?

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