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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Much love in this week's Carolinian

In this week's Carolinian you might have noticed that my column is absent, for several reasons (none of which was the usual "I didn't have time to write one"). But my name is still in the Opinions section, a few times more than usual this week. One, two, three letters were somewhat unhappy with my columns in the past couple weeks.

I really enjoy getting letters to the editor. It's not an attention thing. On the occasion that the letter is actually praising me I'm actually a little let down. The negative criticism doesn't faze me; it's entertaining to me, not sure why. It can't be just that I enjoy pissing people off.

When it first happened a couple years back (because you can't be a real Carolinian writer until your first angry letter) I remember being upset about it. What burned more is our Code of Ethics kept me from responding to it. Since then either my skin thickened up -- something we have to guide new writers through occasionally -- or my sense of humor about it grew. Between letters, emails, angry blog comments and Facebook messages, I suppose your skin has to thicken a bit.

What is good, or just interesting, is that people who comment to your face rarely say anything negative. I've had ISO members find me in the hallway and call me racist, but aside from instances like that people are nice about it. Too nice perhaps. Or maybe I'm just not that easy to find on campus.

Only my close friends tend to get in my face about something I wrote. Everyone else emails.

In any case, with the three letters this week I think I'm up to seven for the semester. I'm got to check with Killian and Brook, but I might be on the verge of a record. Then again, I've heard John Russel -- the sex columnist before Brook -- had more than his fair share. I've still got all year; we'll see what I can come up with.


Blogger Brook Taylor said...

That must be how it goes, because I rarely get negative reactions to my face about things I've written. When I do hear things, it's my friends telling me what they've heard other people say.

I still think it's the absolute worst to not get any comments at all...negative or positive...about something you were sure was going to cause a stir. That's happened to me a few times...and it sucks.

11/07/2006 05:21:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Killian said...

I'm not sure how many negative letters I got over the course of my tenure at the Carolinian - but then, I was there for 34 years.

But as I remember it, unless I really said something that angered people (the "Everything to Live For 2004" column, as a for instance), people just sort of let it go. The ISO did write (I think) two different long, unprintable letters to us about what a bastard I am...but since they didn't want them edited and wouldn't shorten them, I'm not sure they count.

John Russell on the other hand - man, it didn't seem to matter what he wrote. But then again...he was a gay guy writing about sex on a Southern campus. Hard to compete with that for stirring peoples' emotions.

11/07/2006 07:06:00 PM  
Blogger C. L. Lowrance said...

The "Everything to Live For" column puts you over anyone, Joe. I'm the only person who saw EVERYTHING we got from that, 75% of it un-publishable, and it was a truckload. Thanks, Rush.

In Liberal Medium's too-short tenure, I only remember one good, angry letter, and the guy had totally missed my point. I'm with Brook - silence hurts worse.

I'm guessing some student somewhere is, at this very moment, cursing that all The Carolinian cares about is pissing people off. Not true. We do enjoy publishing truths and opinions that some people (occasionally a lot of people) would prefer kept quiet. We enjoy it quite a bit, actually. I could care less about "shocking" anyone - that's a byproduct.

11/07/2006 08:49:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Killian said...

The unfortunate truth I've gleaned after years of doing this is that people are simply less likely to write a letter if they agree with what you're saying.

That's why it's so nice, now and then, to get that kind of letter. I get many more of them now than I ever did at the Carolinian - which may be attributable to the fact that I'm writing more news more often here and very rarely writing columns.

All the same - getting letters at all is a good indication you're having some effect. As a writer it's good to know people are reading and responding to your work - even if the loudest and most frequent comments are often negative.

11/07/2006 09:29:00 PM  
Anonymous ryan said...

hahaha the transgender article reply killed me

11/09/2006 02:39:00 AM  

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