Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Letter Writing Alive in N.H

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Letter Writing Alive in N.H

Article excerpt

Greg Andruskevich gets more mail than you do. That's because he's letters editor at The Union Leader in Manchester, N.H., a newspaper that prides itself on its interactive relationship with readers. In 2004 alone, the newspaper printed more than 5,100 letters to the editor, breaking its own record from the 1970s.

That breaks down to about 15 a day, more than some papers publish in a week. "I think with the advent of the Internet, people find it easier to write," Andruskevich says. But the paper, once headed by conservative icon William Loeb and always a factor in the country's first presidential primary, has long been a political lightning rod.

Andruskevich has worked at the newspaper for 36 years and served as letters editor for 30 (he's also the veterans editor). His day begins at 9 a.m. when he starts sifting through his mail, though he has help from his "partner in crime," Jim Ferriter, a desk copy editor. Andruskevich also edits the editorial page. "It makes for a busy day," he says.

For a paper that receives so many letters, how would Andruskevich describe a slow year? "Somewhere around 3,000 letters," he replies.

To meet demands, the Union Leader -- which is hardly a big paper, serving a town of about 107,000 people -- carries four letters pages a day, though some letters run in other, non-Op-Ed sections. Depending on the season or the political climate, readers dash off their missives more frequently.

"During the primary election it was a crazy time," Andruskevich says. "We'd get over 100 letters a day. It makes for interesting reading." He'll often reach the end of a long letter and find the frustrating instruction, "Don't publish this letter."

With such a high volume of letters, it's hard to recall particular favorites. "We get so many they just fade into the distance once you've seen them in print," he says. …

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