The real thing is worth fighting for: we can help educate them through direct explanations as to why we don't print such letters.Most of the time, I wouldn't trade the convenience of e-mailed letters to the editor for anything. Then there are other days.
These are the days when I get suspected turf from a local resident who never has written to us. As I try to track down the source, I think fondly back to my earlier years as an editorial page editor in the late 1980s and early '90s, when it was usually much easier to spot prefabricated pre·fab·ri·cate
tr.v. pre·fab·ri·cat·ed, pre·fab·ri·cat·ing, pre·fab·ri·cates
1. To manufacture (a building or section of a building, for example) in advance, especially in standard sections that can be easily shipped and letters--they often came on preprinted postcards from the advocacy group with the name of our newspaper and the local submitter's name handwritten hand·write
tr.v. hand·wrote , hand·writ·ten , hand·writ·ing, hand·writes
To write by hand.
[Back-formation from handwritten.]
Adj. 1. in.
Ah, political games with the letters column were so innocent then. Today's turf campaigns are much more sophisticated and oftentimes much harder to detect.
I run a one-person shop. That means time is at a premium. When I get a letter that I think may be turf--but have not seen before--I drop it into a special "turf" folder in my Entourage e-mail program Software in the user's computer that can access the mail servers in a local or remote network. Also known as an "e-mail client," "mail client," "mail program," and "mail reader," it provides the ability to send and receive e-mail messages and file attachments. and let it sit there for a day or two. If I get an identical letter from a different writer, then the question of whether it is in the writer's own words has been answered. I also check the NCEW NCEW National Conference of Editorial Writers listserv to see if the letter has popped up anywhere else in the country.
If none of these events occurs, the next step is to try Google on a couple of key phrases, along with "letter to the editor" to see if one of the political sites wrote it or if it has already been published in another newspaper. I also check a couple of the usual suspects that generate these kinds of letters. Oftentimes, these sites are set up so that all the sender needs to do is type a ZIP code zip code
System of postal-zone codes (zip stands for “zone improvement plan”) introduced in the U.S. in 1963 to improve mail delivery and exploit electronic reading and sorting capabilities. into a box on the site. It then determines the local newspaper to send it to. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently , the concerned citizen not only doesn't have to be a subscriber, he or she doesn't even need to be a regular reader or know the name of the hometown newspaper.
If I do find the letter under someone elses byline or on a political website, I forward it back to the author with a standard explanation as to why we can't publish it along with the URL URL
in full Uniform Resource Locator
Address of a resource on the Internet. The resource can be any type of file stored on a server, such as a Web page, a text file, a graphics file, or an application program. of the previously published letter and an invitation to the person to put a letter on the same topic in his or her words.
To date, no one has ever taken me up on the offer or replied, for that matter, after these steps were taken.
It gets trickier it I can't find any evidence that the letter has been copied. If I'm pressed for time, which often is the case, I simply send the e-mail back with a question as to whether the signer of the letter is the real author. I explain why we can't use the letter if the signer didn't write the body of the letter.
Most of the time, I never hear back in these cases either. Occasionally, I'll get a reply from the writer insisting that the composition is original. Once I received a highly irate i·rate
1. Extremely angry; enraged. See Synonyms at angry.
2. Characterized or occasioned by anger: an irate phone call. response. I'm not sure what made the writer angrier: that he thought I was questioning whether he had plagiarized pla·gia·rize
v. pla·gia·rized, pla·gia·riz·ing, pla·gia·riz·es
1. To use and pass off (the ideas or writings of another) as one's own.
2. the letter, or that he thought I was insinuating in·sin·u·at·ing
1. Provoking gradual doubt or suspicion; suggestive: insinuating remarks.
2. Artfully contrived to gain favor or confidence; ingratiating. that the letter he had composed sounded stilted stilt·ed
1. Stiffly or artificially formal; stiff.
2. Architecture Having some vertical length between the impost and the beginning of the curve. Used of an arch. and canned.
After I apologized for insensitivity in the way I worded my inquiry, and assured him we still wanted to print the letter, I reconsidered and rewrote the blunt phrasing on the response I had been sending to suspected turf-enthusiasts.
When I have some extra time--or am short on letters for the day and would be happy to use the suspect letter it is not turf--I simply pick up the phone and ask the author outright if the letter is original. I've found this is not always foolproof, either. One day I called a letter writer and asked if the letter was in her own words. She assured me that it was. As I was writing the headline for the letter on the next day's page, guess what arrived in my letters inbox? Yes, the identical letter--signed by someone else.
One thing that I think we should keep in mind while in pursuit of turf is that it's not the end of the world
It's Not the End of the World is a 1972 novel for teenagers; it was written by Judy Blume. if one of these letters finds its way into our pages now and again. Most people aren't trying to pull one over on us. They want to help out their candidate of their cause and are looking for Looking for
In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with. a way to do it. Voila! There on an advocacy website is a nice letter all ready for them to send with a few clicks of the mouse.
We can help to educate them through direct explanations as to why we don't print such letters--a good example is to cite a parallel to the high school student who copies a term paper off the Web and submits it as his own work--and through explanatory columns to the general readership on our pages.
The ones whom we truly should be putting the pressure on are those who run the websites that generate the letters. If we write them every time we reject a prefabricated letter, we stand a better chance of slowing down the proliferation of turf. After all, they really don't want to alienate To voluntarily convey or transfer title to real property by gift, disposition by will or the laws of Descent and Distribution, or by sale.
For example, a seller may alienate property by transferring to a buyer a parcel of the seller's land containing a house, in the gatekeepers to the nation's editorial pages.
Will we ever eliminate turf? No, and we shouldn't be surprised if, in the next election cycle, canned letters even more difficult to detect pop up. But I do take comfort in the fact that the namesake of these letters--"astroturf"--didn't permanently force grass out of the nation's ballparks and stadiums.
Ultimately, you just can't beat the real thing.
PRO-MARRIAGE TURF ...
President Bush and other conservatives have been accused in recent weeks of seeking to "put bias in the Constitution" by endorsing an amendment that would define marriage as solely the union of one man and one woman. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is not homosexuals, but marriage, that is under attack.
Left unchecked, rogue judges intent on finding new rights in the Constitution will succeed, someday soon, in extending marriage benefits to gays.
Supporters of a marriage-protection amendment aren't out to discriminate against anyone; they simply want to preserve....
Carolyn Nielsen, who called this letter to the attention of the listserv, wrote:" I Googled this and found it in at least five papers. When I confronted the letter writer's wife, she argued that it's not plagiarized because it's not copyrighted. I then used the example of a college student turning in her roommate's term paper as her own. That's not plagiarism Using ideas, plots, text and other intellectual property developed by someone else while claiming it is your original work. ," says she. That s cheating." Picture Edvard Munch's "The Scream" and that's how I look right now.
Alane S. Megna is editor of the opinion page for The Leaf-Chronicle in Clarksville, Tennessee For other uses, see Clarksville (disambiguation).
Clarksville is a city in Montgomery County, Tennessee, USA. Clarksville is the county seat of Montgomery County and is Tennessee's fastest growing and fifth largest city. . E-mail email@example.com