The Irish Times letters page
How letter-writers view it
* A very useful method of opinion input for those who have no other outlet.
* Online comment is less moderated, more open to bombastic anonymous and offensive comment.
* Comments are a sea of disposability. Letters aren’t. Plus I can’t cut out a comment of mine from the paper and file it.
* I am of an age that the newspaper is a more “normal” way to express my views than other media.
* The letters page is read by key influencers and politicians in our society, while the internet blog forum is totally here today gone tomorrow. A post on an internet site is one in a million, a letter in the IT is more thoughtful and composed. Internet posts tend to be knee-jerk and less considered.
* The letters page reaches thoughtful people who are seriously interested and are likely to have interesting thoughts and observations themselves.
* It is a joy to have people I don’t know come up to me, shake my hand and say, “I love your letters”.
* Element of competition – only a limited percentage of contributions are published.
* It is an interesting way to express your opinion in a quality forum.
* With a letter one has to be concise and one has to stick to the point whereas online comments often ramble.
The above are anonymous responses to a survey of 200 people who submitted letters to The Irish Times in 2012. Survey conducted as part of academic research.