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Same wording in letters to the editor

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by forever_town, May 26, 2007.

  1. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    A few days ago, I received an e-mailed letter to the editor from someone who purports to be in Maine. I called the phone number and he said he wrote the letter, so I said I'd consider it for publication.

    Just yesterday, someone else purporting to be from California sends in a letter with the same subject line and word for word the same exact letter as this guy from Maine. My suspicions are now officially raised. I find it awfully hard to believe that someone seemingly across the country would write the identical letter to the editor about the same subject.

    I'm thinking I should yank the letter and put a different one in its place, but what do you think? I have until Tuesday to make a decision.
  2. John

    John Well-Known Member

    Call the first guy back and ask him if he knows anything about it. No way letters would be the same, so something's up.
  3. google a select phrase or paragraph from the letter(s) and see what pops up.

    If you get a match or two, don't run 'em.
  4. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member


  5. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    I don't have too much to do with our edit page, the idiots who do don't like me -- it's probably at least partially because I rarely have any reluctance to wonder loudly why we ever, ever, run letters from outside of our subscription area (unless the letter-writer is a mail subscriber).
  6. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    P.S. I yanked the suspicious letter and put in a plug ad in its place. The other letters to the editor I got were all of a similar ilk (though not all were about the same subject) or were too long to be letters to the editor.
  7. jfs1000

    jfs1000 Member

    Could be a PR gimmick. What happens, and a lot of it happens in politics, is that someone writes the editorial for the organization or movement, and then local readers submit it to their paper. An example would be a letter or op-ed about immigration. A lot of it will be written by someone else and it is up to the local person to finish it off an give a local feel. Then it finds its way into the newspapers editorial page, which lends incredible credibility to the viewpoint.
  8. alleyallen

    alleyallen Guest

    We ran into similar issues at my last rag, a small-town paper which was suddenly getting impassioned letters from Georgia, California and Maryland.
  9. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    During election campaigns, this is becoming SOP.

    What will happen is, a campaign will churn out a couple LTE's a week. They are vetted in-house to stay on message for the timing. This is done to increase the number of volunteers willing to send a letter to the editor (it's a lot easier when you don't have to write it) and to combat the time-lag that occurs at many papers. The LTE's are then emailed out to supporter lists with instructions on how to submit them.

    If this week's issue is health care but next week's issue is immigration, and the campaign office knows that the paper takes a couple days to process, this week's letters will be about immigration and next week's will be zoning laws, or whatever.

    Not excusing this practice -- I think it's crap. But this is the reality of it.
  10. MacDaddy

    MacDaddy Active Member

    Maybe the WNBA is behind it.
  11. chazp

    chazp Active Member

    Don't run it. Something is seriously out of whack.
  12. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    I got one yesterday that was a photocopy. The typeset letter had my shop's address inked in, but the rest was a photocopy.

    Likely some suggested "write a letter to your editor" and sent it out as a sample. This one had been photocopied quite a bit.

    Amnesty International does the same thing for its human rights campaigns. They send a "suggested letter" with the addresses (not newspapers) of where to send the letters.
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