Writings and observations

The Unpublished


It started one day when Roger Plothow, the publisher of the Idaho Falls Post Register daily newspaper, was talking at home about the letters to the editor his paper received, and especially some of those it didn’t publish. His son said that might be a good idea for a book.

He was right.

What happened next was that Plothow and his staff collected some of the most, ah, interesting of the letters that didn’t make the cut. There’s good reason letters like those get a lot of attention in newsrooms, and get passed around and much commented on.

They’re entertaining. Highly entertaining.

See The Unpublished page, and order your copy.

So this is the book bringing together many of the letters – they date generally from 2010 up to this year – which get a lot of attention in the newsroom. Some letters were just outright unprintable by any standard (extreme bad taste, libel and so on) and couldn’t make even this collection. But quite a few, for one reason or another, just seemed to beg for the light of day. The authors’ names were, however, redacted.

It’s not that Plothow and his staff have anything else letters to the editor. Quite the contrary: They print a lot of them every year, and prize the interaction with readers. Toward the end of this book, they also selected about a dozen of the best letters they received as examples of how the form can be done well. Many of those well-crafted letters happened to be sharp blasts at the Post Register, just as many of the rejects were. Attitude toward the paper wasn’t the dividing line; it had more to do with attitude toward logic and language.

The specific reasons for the rejections, though, aren’t noted here, at least letter by letter. Instead, make the judgement for yourself: Should this letter have been rejected, and if so, why? You may find yourself reading through an unexpectedly provocative book.

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