• 66°

Josh Bergeron: Time to go digital on letters, columns

I got started on writing in newspapers earlier than most.

My first published piece of writing was an illustrated book for a class project in elementary school — it’s probably still sitting in my parents’ attic somewhere. My second was a letter to the editor to my hometown newspaper, the TimesDaily, while I was in high school.

A teacher at my school, Brooks High School in Killen, Alabama, made the news for a fight with another teacher at the school system’s career and technical center. Then a junior, I wrote that teachers should be held to a higher standard than the students who might be found fighting at school. I found an email in the newspaper’s print edition and used my computer, which I had worked for a summer to purchase, to type it up.

An employee of the newspaper called me to check that a real person wrote the letter. The next day, it was in print.

I thought it was cool. My parents were a little nervous. An English teacher at my high school, though not one I’d had for classes, told me in passing she was glad I had written it and that she thought it was well-done.

Somewhere between 2009 and 2021, I lost the newspaper that contained the letter. An internet search produced my second-ever letter to the editor from 2013 about wireless internet at the local college, which isn’t surprising because news websites sometimes lose their online archives in transitions between website designs and providers.

The point in recounting my personal story is to say they were an early part of my interest in writing. Maybe because of the two letters to the editor I ended up where I am today.

Local letters to the editor are a fundamental part of any newspaper, and they are still used to gauge public opinion about a topic. If there are several days filled with letters to the editor expressing the same opinion, chances are that view is one held by a large portion of the public.

So, as with many things, it’s time for the Salisbury Post to take a step forward for letter writing. Starting immediately, the Post will require writers to email their letters to the editor or submit them digitally using the submission link on our website, unless they are physically unable to do so.

Each week, I receive three or four written submissions for the Post’s opinion page. Some are column or My Turn length (700 or so words).  Most are the length of letters to the editor (300 words). Handwriting can be hard to read, and all take time to type when resources aren’t as rich as they once were. Handwritten letters are a victim of publication delays because of the time it takes to type them up. When I have to decide between writing a news story and typing in a letter, my choice usually has to be the former.

I understand that some readers do not own a computer or do not have internet access. In those cases, we can make an exception. But it’s not uncommon to receive letters that are typed, printed and dropped off at the Post; those are clearly cases where it would be easier if the person emailed their submission.

The Rowan Public Library also offers access to internet, public computers and free typing courses through Gale Courses online. The class is called keyboarding. One just started April 14, and the next begins May 12. It’s a six-week course that allows people to work at their own pace. You can access the courses at rowancountync.gov/1518/Online-Classes.

While he now sends in submissions by email, one letter writer used to text his submissions to a Post email. That’s OK. If for some reason, you want to bring in a submission on a USB drive and let us transfer it over, that’s actually preferable to a handwritten letter, too.

My intent is to free up time to work on reporting the news in Salisbury. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns by calling 704-797-4248.

The email to send in letters to the editor, including about this column, is letters@salisburypost.com. The Post’s website also has a link at the top of the page for submissions, including letters to the editor. After filling out the form and hitting submit, your submission lands in my inbox and that of our night editor, Paris Goodnight.

Josh Bergeron is editor of the Salisbury Post.

Comments

Business

Weak jobs report spurs questions about big fed spending

News

Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting in Elizabeth City

Sports

Woodland, two others share lead; Mickelson plays much worse but will still be around for weekend at Quail Hollow

Business

Former NHL player to open mobster themed bar in Raleigh

Nation/World

California population declines for first time

News

GOP leaders differ on bottom line for state spending

News

Police: Man killed in shootout with officers in Winston-Salem

Crime

Man charged after thieves rob would-be gun buyers of wallets, shoes

Crime

Blotter: Four added to sheriff’s most wanted list

High School

High school football: Some anxious moments, but Hornets win state title

Local

Photos: Salisbury High Hornets win big in 2AA championship game

Local

County manager outlines projections for the upcoming fiscal year budget, suggests uses for stimulus money

Business

Miami-based Browns Athletic Apparel opens second screen printing location in Salisbury

News

At funeral, fallen Watauga deputies remembered as ‘heroes’

Coronavirus

COVID-19 cluster identified at Granite Quarry Elementary

Coronavirus

More than half of North Carolinians have now taken at least one vaccine shot

Local

City hopes to cover expenses in 2021-22 budget with surplus revenue generated this year

Local

Fallen tree proves to be a blessing for local nonprofit Happy Roots

Local

Quotes of the week

Coronavirus

Health department drops quarantine time from 14 to 10 days

Crime

Blotter: More than $100,000 in property reported stolen from Old Beatty Ford Road site

Local

City fights invasive beetles by injecting trees with insecticide

Local

City names downtown recipients for federal Parks Service grant

China Grove

China Grove Town Council weighs 2021-22 budget priorities, supports buying body cameras