Letter from the editor: Pithy is good


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The Independent Online

There continues to be only one story in town. i’s mailbox tells me how engaged with and passionate about the phone-hacking saga most of our readers are (Geoff Humphries of Cambridge may “want to switch off” when he sees the word “hacking”, but he is in a tiny minority).

So many of you have written in, but relatively few have been published. We want to print your views, we really do, but there is a daily limit as to how many we can run.

Last weekend at a mellow party in sunny Bristol kind strangers who were otherwise spontaneously complimentary about i, claimed to be puzzled as to how to get a letter published, having tried “tons of times”. Allowing for a little cider-induced licence, it is a familiar complaint. So, perhaps a few tips would help.

We would rather publish a larger number of good shorter letters, than fewer longer ones. How long? There is no hard and fast rule. But, look at that space on p14: if you bang on for as long as I do here, you have little chance. Pithy is good. If you can’t be pithy, then 150 words is plenty in our concise paper. Around 100 and you have a fair chance, depending on quality. At 200-plus, we then have to hack it down, and no one likes to be hacked.

Please keep it clean, whatever you think of Rupert Murdoch, Cooper Brown, or me. We don’t like swear words in i — it took time, but our mums read it now. And, please note how seldom we publish reader poems. I know you put a lot into them, but to quote the poet Adrian Mitchell: “Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people”. Finally, for all you prose-writers out there, the address is i@independent.co.uk