amazing and sometimes amusing to watch opinions fly back and forth across the
Worldwide Web. These postings are quick
and passionate, and not always well researched or reasoned. To get that, one can still turn to an
enduring and delightful institution — the classic letter to the editor in the
such carefully crafted missives, sharp-eyed readers flag errors and oversights
by journalists and other letter writers, and deliver stinging retorts, often
laced with outrage.
recent edition of the Washington Post, for instance, one reader from
Vermont huffed and puffed about a story in which the Post identified one
John Mercer Langston of Ohio as the first black American elevated to public
office by popular vote.
nay, the Vermonter begged to differ.
The nation's first black elected official was a fellow who won a seat in
the Vermont legislature in 1836, 19 years before Langston took office in Ohio.
letter writer that day haughtily corrected the newspaper's misuse of the term
radio transmitter, grumping that an obviously incompetent Post reporter
had confused transmitters with receivers.
Someone else took the paper to task for a cute story about driving a car
while barefoot. Foolish and dangerous, don't
on the National Mall. The survival of
ancient Sanskrit. The difference
between deaf interpreters and interpreters for the deaf.All prompted people to take fingers to
keyboard and vent to the Washington Post. And those are just the letters that the paper printed. Very often the unpublished letters to the
editor also find their way to reporters whose stories the readers are
pay no mind to the common complaint that Americans don't write letters much any
more. We certainly do — just not as
often to each other!