Faulting the effort

Posted: Thursday, November 07, 2002

Tumult, shouting; captains, kings; letters, editor. Here are two suggestions for the next campaign.

First, the last time so many letters to the editor ran in the Empire, Nimbus was occupying Nimbus Plaza, and writing letters to you was the only way most people thought they had to get rid of it. Nimbus now has a fine home at the Subport and there have to be other and better ways to elect a candidate.

This year's political letters were peculiarly content-less, much like the "We've got spirit, yes we do!" cheers at a basketball game, except that those cheers eventually stop. Instead of abandoning your policy of printing almost all letters, why don't you create, a month or so before each election, a special box on the editorial page labeled, say, "Endorsement Letters," and each day, put all the new endorsement letters in it? That would show that the letters have less intrinsic interest than ordinary letters and make it easier for most of us to avoid them. Maybe you could use a smaller font.

Second, you could do a slightly better job of covering the issues the candidates (and their letter-writers) are raising. Early in the campaign the Empire ran good interviews with each candidate. Why not re-interview each candidate about a week before the election and ask that candidate what issues he or she thinks the campaigns have been about, and how he or she now responds to them? Candidates who respond with the same pre-programmed messages they started with will reveal themselves for what they are. Candidates who learn something during a campaign might possibly show that in their responses. It couldn't hurt. It might even give your publisher-editorialist something sensible to write about in his endorsements.

Mark Regan


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