One of the things I’ve liked about Boulder’s Daily Camera is that on their site they run an unfiltered Letters to the Editor blog. Unlike the letters that get published in the print edition, every letter the Camera receives gets posted to this blog — where (unlike comments left on Camera articles) they can be found via the site’s search engine.
And look how easy they make contributing your letters! All you have to do is send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yesterday, for the first time, I tried to post an item to this letters blog. I received this automated response:
Thank you for sending a letter to the editor of the Daily Camera.
To be considered for publication, all letters must include your name, address and daytime telephone number. If you have included this information, thank you. If you have not included this information, please resend the entire letter with all of the required information.
We prefer that you submit the text of your letter in the body of your email message. If you have submitted your letter as an attached file, please consider resubmitting it as plain text in the body of your email message.
Please also note that letters should be about 300 words in length. Those letters that adhere to this guideline are preferred, and those that exceed this benchmark are often not published.
Thank you for your help.
The editors of the editorial page.
[Note: This is an automated message. Please do not reply.]
…OK, those requirements are reasonable. But I wondered, did I miss something? I went back and looked on the Letters Blog, and on the main Letters Page (online repurposing of what they choose to run in the print edition). Where exactly were these requirements posted?
Nowhere. You only find out about these requirements when you get the autoreply.
Generally I dislike online forms, but here’s a place where one would make a hell of a lot of sense — and also probably make life easier for Camera web staff as well as decrease frustration for contributors.
The Camera could post a submission form for the Letters blog that requires all of the information they need. And it could also limit the characters in each submission, and not let you submit your letter until it’s 300 characters or less. Online forms are really easy to set up. Especially if you’re just using them to shoot an e-mail with the form information to the person at the Camera who’s already getting these e-mail submissions.
I really keep trying to like the Camera, I really do. But I keep stumbling across D’oh! moments like this one, and I’m not surprised that the Camera just put its headquarters up for sale.
That announcement notes:
“If a sale were to occur, it is unclear where newspaper operations â€” including the editorial, advertising and finance departments â€” would move.”
Actually, I’m wondering whether they would even continue to exist. I suspect this will be a no-paper town pretty soon…
OK, I’m going to go re-submit my letter now…