Letter from America (or how even the letters page has been changed by the internet)

You can learn a lot about a newspaper, the inter-generational wisdom of newsrooms has concluded, from the state of its letters page.

Have too many letters from charities (Paul Daniels urges you to stand up for pets etc) and you’ve got a problem. Have pages and pages of letters from local people and you’re sorted – or as near to sorted as any newspaper can be at the moment.

The Westmorland Gazette – something of a guilty pleasure whenever I go to the Lake District – clearly falls into the latter category. Readers aren’t backward in coming forward to share their thoughts on the issues which matter to them, packing out two pages a week.

But proof, if it were needed, that the internet has changed even the old institution that is the letters page comes to the Gazette all the way from Milwaukee:

Now,  that wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago would it? But what an impact the Gazette – bills for which are omnipresent around the Lake District – must have made to our American friends for the local paper of their holiday destination their first port of call when it came to giving their hosts a wake-up call about litter.

(That said, having just spent a weekend up in the Lakes, I’m not sure I agree about the litter).

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