April 30, 2009

That'll teach them to write an LTE

Or continue paying the subscription, if it was me.

In the good old days, newspapers would publish letters to the editor in response to issues raised by the paper. The letters might express agreement, disagreement, correct a factual error, and so forth.

The correspondence was allowed to stand — or fall — on its own merits. Letters were addressed to the editor, but they were published for the readers. At least, most papers treat them that way.

When the Toronto Telegram went belly up in the early 70s, it was replaced by a cheap tabloid called the Toronto Sun. The Sun ran letters to the editor too, of course. But each was accompanied by an italicized, often unwarrantedly snide riposte from the paper's editors.

That was distasteful and insulting enough.

Now we have the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, where a letter writer can expect no less than a member of the newspaper's own editorial board, name of Patrick McIlheran, to clamber aboard his little soapbox/blog in a self-righteous huff to mock and denounce the correspondent not just once but twice, in separate entries.

And for what? For the offense of managing to agitate Mr. McIlheran's longstanding devotion to the project of torture apologetics, naturally.

From a perspective of ethical journalistic practice, it's remarkably bad form for a paper's editors to attack a letter writer. But perhaps McIlheran's petty performance is evidence that his conscience is finally getting the better of his enthusiastic defense of torture.

Although that seems unlikely.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to see that lily-livered scumbunny wander in here. Why I'd...

Other Side said...

Incredible. And JS wonders why revenues continue to fall.