Most papers receive more letters.The popularity of the letters to the editor column in our nation's newspapers has been increasingly steadily in the past several years. The public has responded to the availability of the media by writing thousands of letters on a yearly basis.
A recent study was conducted in order to answer questions in several topic areas that past studies have not covered not covered Health care adjective Referring to a procedure, test or other health service to which a policy holder or insurance beneficiary is not entitled under the terms of the policy or payment system–eg, Medicare. Cf Covered. . It was in part a replication In database management, the ability to keep distributed databases synchronized by routinely copying the entire database or subsets of the database to other servers in the network.
There are various replication methods. and expansion of a previous study conducted by Kapoor and Botan in 1988.
Letters to the editor have been somewhat affected by the agenda-setting function of the press. The numbers of letters that newspapers receive increases annually as illustrated by The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times, which reports almost double the number of letters - 30,629 in 1967 to 58,524 in 1973.
Sample and questionnaire
Thirty-three percent of all newspapers listed in the 1993 Editor and Publishers Yearbook were mailed a questionnaire. In all, 514 out of a total number of 1,611 newspapers received the questionnaire.
The sample consisted of three categories of newspapers:
* Large papers, with circulation of 100,001-500,000+.
* Medium papers, circulation 25,001 to 100,000.
* Small papers, 25,000 or less.
For each circulation category, a percentile percentile,
n the number in a frequency distribution below which a certain percentage of fees will fall. E.g., the ninetieth percentile is the number that divides the distribution of fees into the lower 90% and the upper 10%, or that fee level of the total number of newspapers was calculated. Each category was multiplied mul·ti·ply 1
v. mul·ti·plied, mul·ti·ply·ing, mul·ti·plies
1. To increase the amount, number, or degree of.
2. Mathematics To perform multiplication on. by 33% to arrive at the number of surveys sent to members of each circulation category.
Two hundred and ninety-six newspapers (57.6%) responded to the survey, with 4.7% from small papers, 21% from medium papers, 29.1% from large-circulation papers, and four from papers not reporting their circulation.
The same questionnaire used in the 1979 and 1988 Kapoor and Pasternack study was used for two reasons. First, the former questionnaire was considered exhaustively ex·haus·tive
1. Treating all parts or aspects without omission; thorough: an exhaustive study.
2. Tending to exhaust. thorough. Second, using the same questionnaire makes possible doing limited comparisons of 1979, 1988, and 1994.
The study produced data regarding the number of letters received and published, publication policies, and staffing.
Numbers of letters received monthly. While 38% of newspapers receive 0-50 letters per month and 17.5% receive 51-100, only a total of 32.8% receive between 101-500, with the remaining 10.8% receiving over 500 letters per month.
Changes in volume of letters received. A large percentage of newspapers reported either a slight increase (32.4%) or a substantial increase (47.0%) in the volume of letters to the editor over the past 10 years. Only 3.7% reported a slight decrease, with 2.4% reporting a substantial decrease in letters to the editors over the past 10 years, while 3.7% reported the volume of letters unchanged.
1. The readers of a publication considered as a group.
2. Chiefly British The office of a reader at a university. study conducted. A large percentage - 55.4% or 164 out of 296 - have not conducted a readership survey about the letters to the editor column recently. Large and medium-sized papers that have conducted surveys consider the letters to the editor column to be "one of the best-read items." No newspaper reported the letters column was below-average in readership.
Staff changes in relation to the letters column in the past 10 years. Slightly less than half (49%) of papers reported no significant staff change in relation to the letters column in the past 10 years, while about a quarter (25.3%) report a slight increase of staff, and 4.4% report a substantial change in staff.
Only 11.5% report a slight decrease in staff, and 6.8% report a substantial decrease, with 3.0% not reporting.
The study found a significant difference between papers of various sizes with respect to staff changes in relation to numbers of letters. Small newspapers (76.9%) experienced an overall staff increase with medium papers (23.1%) reporting an increase, and no increase reported in staff at large papers.
Percentage of letters published. Twenty-three percent of the responding papers publish fewer than half of letters received, while 77% publish more than half. Sixty papers publish 90% of letters received. Compared with small newspapers (4.5%), fewer large papers (2.2%) publish more than 85% of the letters they receive.
Change in percentage of letters published. Over the past 10 years, only 17.9% of papers have decreased the percentage of letters published. Slightly more than a third of the papers (117 or 39.5%) experienced no change, and 37.4% have experienced at least some increase.
Word limit. Fewer than half (40.5%) of all papers limit letter length to 251-500 words, with 2.4% allowing 501 to 1,000 words. A total of 15.5% have no word limit, and 35.1% limit letters to 250 words or less.
Automatic rejection of letters. Anonymous letters are very likely to be rejected 93.9% of the time. Letters that attack the newspaper's policies were rejected less than half (42.6%) of the time.
Non-automatic rejection of letters. Again, anonymity is very likely to be reason enough to reject a letter (93.9%), and unfair personal attacks can often be sufficient reason (59.9%) for rejection.
Language and grammar. Most papers (59.1%) do not use grammar as a reason to reject letters, yet 36.5% say good grammar improves the chances of publication.
Frequency of publication of letters. Slightly over one-third (36.2%) of all papers have no limit on how frequently they will publish letters from a particular source, while 4.7% limit publication to one a week, and 37.2% to monthly publication. Different-sized papers vary significantly with respect to limits on frequency of publication, with smaller papers less likely to have a limit on frequency.
Publishing writers' names. Most papers (250, or 84.4%) require that the writer's name Noun 1. writer's name - the name that appears on the by-line to identify the author of a work
name - a language unit by which a person or thing is known; "his name really is George Washington"; "those are two names for the same thing" is published with the letter while 10, or 3.4%, will withhold with·hold
v. with·held , with·hold·ing, with·holds
1. To keep in check; restrain.
2. To refrain from giving, granting, or permitting. See Synonyms at keep.
3. a writer's name by request and 32 (10.8%) will withhold it for good cause. No significant difference was seen across sizes of papers.
Editing of letters. Most papers, 96.3%, report some form of editing performed on letters. Editing to shorten (audio, compression) Shorten - A form of lossless audio compression. , 65.9%, and editing for grammar, 61.8%, were the most frequent forms. Many papers, 34.1%, return letters to the writer for change, and 25.7% edit for libel libel 1) n. to publish in print (including pictures), writing or broadcast through radio, television or film, an untruth about another which will do harm to that person or his/her reputation, by tending to bring the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn or contempt of or taste, with 25% discussing changes with writers before publication. About 90% of larger papers will shorten letters while only 49.4% of small papers shorten letters.
Newspapers have seen a tremendous increase in the number of letters over the past 10 years. Our study indicates that 79% of newspapers report either a slight or substantial increase in the column of letters over the past ton years. The 1979 and 1988 studies reported 88% of the newspapers surveyed had an increase in the number of letters to the editor they received, while only 2.5% reported any type of decrease.
In our study, editors report that more than 55% of them do not conduct any type of readership survey. The 1979 and 1988 study found 61% of the newspapers reporting did not conduct a readership survey.
When addressing the issue of staff changes, a much lower percentage (49%) of newspapers reported no staff changes despite an increase in letters. This compares to the two previous studies in 1979 and 1988 in which 80% of newspapers reported no staff changes. However, in the two earlier studies, smaller newspapers (77%) reported a dramatic increase in staff.
These findings indicate that because of the increased volume of letters received by newspapers, combined with the newspapers' concern with credibility of letter contents, editors are having the letters read more carefully than in the past, thereby requiting a need for an increase of staff to accommodate the increased workload The term workload can refer to a number of different yet related entities. An amount of labor
While a precise definition of a workload is elusive, a commonly accepted definition is the hypothetical relationship between a group or individual human operator and task demands. .
Because of the increase in the number of letters to the editor over the past 10 years, many newspapers have been forced to increase the size of the column. Seventy-five percent of newspapers surveyed report an increase in the size of the column while only 15% report a slight decrease.
Despite the increase in the number of letters received, over 56% of our respondents In the context of marketing research, a representative sample drawn from a larger population of people from whom information is collected and used to develop or confirm marketing strategy. report they do not need to change the present size of their column. These data were consistent with data from the two previous studies in which editors at more than half of the newspapers said they did not want to change the amount of space allocated to the column. The attitudes of the editors over the past 15 years (from 1979 to present) have not changed to a great degree.
Publication decisions and editing
More than half of all newspapers surveyed say they publish 80% of the letters they receive while smaller newspapers indicate an even higher rate. However, newspapers indicated a negative correlation Noun 1. negative correlation - a correlation in which large values of one variable are associated with small values of the other; the correlation coefficient is between 0 and -1
indirect correlation between staff time spent on reviewing letters and amount of letters received each week.
Over 21% of newspapers reported a decrease in the letters published over the last 10 years, with over 37% reporting an increase in the amount of letters they now publish. Compared with the 1979 and 1988 studies, in which only 12% of newspapers report a decrease in the percentage of letters published, current data may indicate newspapers in our study may be editing letters more than in previous studies.
Most newspapers surveyed imposed length limits on letters. Specifically, 75% implement a length limit of less than 500 words with only 15.5% of newspapers reporting having no limit on number of words. Previous studies found a larger percentage, 33.3%, of newspapers having no word limit.
Since the column sizes have not been increased over the past ton years, it seems that a much greater percentage of newspapers would limit letter length.
Some significant differences between circulation size emerge for types of automatic rejection. First, in terms of letters without an address, anonymous letters, factual errors, and "thank you" letters, larger newspapers report a high rejection rate when compared to medium or small newspapers.
Second, in cases concerning letters that are incoherent or illegible il·leg·i·ble
Not legible or decipherable.
il·legi·bil , form letters, poetry, or essays, larger newspapers reject significantly more than both medium and small newspapers.
Third, large newspapers report a significant difference for rejections based on letters written by inmates seeking pen pals Pen Pals or penpals may refer to:
Finally, letters being too long was another statistically significant reason for rejection - although, in this case, medium newspapers use this reason more frequently than large and small papers do. Small newspapers cite personal attacks as a source of rejection more frequently than medium or large newspapers, but in this instance the difference is not that significant.
Because larger newspapers normally receive more letters and have a larger staff as compared to small and medium newspapers, the larger papers are better able to critique and be more selective. However, explaining why medium newspapers reject more letters than the other circulation sizes is difficult.
Approximately half of the newspapers surveyed report they have no limit on how frequently they publish letters from a particular source; however, more than 20% state they limit it to once a month. The differences in this policy are significant across circulation categories - small newspapers are less likely to have a limit on how frequently they will publish a particular writer's letters. This may be because of the fact that smaller newspapers receive fewer letters than the other two sizes of newspapers. Thus, small newspapers may publish more letters by the same writers in order to fill space.
More than 84% of newspapers require a writer's name publishing with the letter, while only 11% are willing to waive To intentionally or voluntarily relinquish a known right or engage in conduct warranting an inference that a right has been surrendered.
For example, an individual is said to waive the right to bring a tort action when he or she renounces the remedy provided by law for such this policy for a good reason. No significant difference was seen among the circulation categories.
In terms of providing writers with reasons for rejections, over 53% of the newspapers notify the writer, with small newspapers doing so more frequently than either large or medium newspapers. This clearly indicates that small newspapers are hesitant hes·i·tant
Inclined or tending to hesitate.
hesi·tant·ly adv. to disappoint dis·ap·point
v. dis·ap·point·ed, dis·ap·point·ing, dis·ap·points
1. To fail to satisfy the hope, desire, or expectation of.
2. letter writers, whereas large newspapers are not as concerned.
In comparison to the 1979 and 1988 studies, this study found a marked decrease - by almost 25% - of newspapers that notify writers their letters have been rejected. This decrease in notification can be attributed to the increase in the volume of letters received.
More than 75% of newspapers contend their letters column strives to achieve balance. The size of the circulation category is statistically significant, with large newspapers less likely to strongly agree. Once again, large newspapers have the option to use pro and con PRO AND CON. For and against. For example, affidavits are taken pro and con. letters because of their larger supply of letters to choose from, while medium and small newspapers sometimes do not have an opportunity to achieve this balance.
Over 60% of the newspapers indicate their letters column reflects public opinion. However, less than 40% either are not sure or concede con·cede
v. con·ced·ed, con·ced·ing, con·cedes
1. To acknowledge, often reluctantly, as being true, just, or proper; admit. See Synonyms at acknowledge.
2. their column may not have an adequate representation.
The results of our study clearly indicate a dramatic increase in the number of citizens who use the letters to the editor column as a means of expressing their views and concerns.
Our study shows that newspaper editors and their staff are editing letters more. It looked at the time staff spends on the letters column per week and found that over 65% spend at least ten hours with 25% spending between 21 and 30 hours per week.
Our study also examined the age of the editors and found 58% are between the ages of 22 and 45.
Concerning the gender variable, we found an overwhelming 76% to be male editors, with fewer than 21% of the editors being females.
Because of the increasing growth of population of the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. , future studies need to examine the issue of age and gender of who writes and edits letters to the editor.
RELATED ARTICLE: About the survey
This study qualifies as follow-up follow-up,
n the process of monitoring the progress of a patient after a period of active treatment.
follow-up plan research but does not qualify as a longitudinal study longitudinal study
a chronological study in epidemiology which attempts to establish a relationship between an antecedent cause and a subsequent effect. See also cohort study. because only the results (not the data) of the 1979 and 1988 studies are available and were used in this study.
Using statistical program SPSS A statistical package from SPSS, Inc., Chicago (www.spss.com) that runs on PCs, most mainframes and minis and is used extensively in marketing research. It provides over 50 statistical processes, including regression analysis, correlation and analysis of variance. , several procedures including correlation's analysis of variance The discrepancy between what a party to a lawsuit alleges will be proved in pleadings and what the party actually proves at trial.
In Zoning law, an official permit to use property in a manner that departs from the way in which other property in the same locality and F-tests were performed.
Kapoor, S. & Pasternack, S. (1980). The Masthead mast·head
1. Nautical The top of a mast.
2. The listing in a newspaper or periodical of information about its staff, operation, and circulation.
3. , vol. 32, no. 3, p. 23.
Kapoor, S. & Botan, C. & Urbancik, L. (1989, May). State of letters to the editor column. A paper presented at ICA Ica (ē`kä), city (1993 pop. 108,724), capital of Ica dept., SW Peru, on the Pan-American Highway. It is a commercial center for the cotton, wool, and wine produced in the region. There are several summer resorts nearby. Convention, San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden , CA.
Nagel, G. (1974). Letters to the editor: a public bid for fame. Columbia Journalism Review The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) is an American magazine for professional journalists published bimonthly by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism since 1961. , p. 48.
NCEW NCEW National Conference of Editorial Writers associate member Suraj Kapoor is an associate professor in the communication department of Illinois State University ISU is recognized in the prestigious US News rankings as a "National University", that is, a university which grants a variety of doctoral degrees and strongly emphasizes research. in Normal. Janet Janet: see Clouet, Jean.
JANET - Joint Academic NETwork Blue, a research associate of Kapoor, also contributed to this article.