Regarding the April 19 Portland Press Herald editorial wherein the newspaper explains the need to limit publication of letters in its print edition:

I don’t doubt the veracity of your claim, but it might have been useful to explain how decisions regarding content are made.

I think most people would agree that local news is one of the last remaining bright spots for newspaper publishers in the internet age. Similarly, I’d argue that local letters to the editor are an extension of that niche. As a 57-year-old newspaper junkie, I’ve never understood why publishers would reject free, high-quality content from their most devoted customer base, then turn around and devote the disputed space to syndicated material (for which they presumably pay a fee) that is published in thousands of other outlets.

I suspect one argument against expanding the letters section is that it would cost too much to increase the page count. Let’s examine that premise: The newspaper says it can’t afford to publish content that they acknowledge their customers find highly desirable. If that’s really the case, newspapers are in even worse shape than everybody thought.

But let’s assume that it’s true – just for the sake of argument. The task then becomes to find something else to cut out of the existing paper to provide additional space. Obviously, that is a fraught proposition that strikes terror in the hearts of editors. For every reader who is prepared to cancel his subscription in defense of Mark Trail’s hallucinogenic adventures, there’s another patron who is just as passionate about the chart showing yesterday’s high temperature for Mumbai, India.

I’d suggest that there is a giant, daily chunk of the current newspaper that is ripe for a makeover. Conveniently, this prime real estate is already located right next door to the current letters section. Yes, I’m referring to the daily editorial. I know this will come as a shock to the ink-stained veterans in the newsroom, but the concept of the daily newspaper editorial has become hopelessly outdated in an era where everybody has their own digital soapbox with a circulation in the zillions.

There may have been a time when it was appropriate for some conveniently anonymous moral arbiter to dispense imperious instructions to the wretched, barely literate masses. But now that just seems like a quaint tradition that’s about as relevant as a butter churn.

Uh-oh. It looks like this letter isn’t going to make it into print, being that I’ve exceeded my allotted 300 words. I don’t know if that will disqualify it from the internet edition: Your editorial didn’t make that clear.

Patrick Moening