I just got off the phone with one of the most articulate and fair-minded readers I've spoken with in this election cycle. She was calling to express the single most common opinion about balance in The Star that I've been hearing lately: That the letters page in the Opinion section has been running far more letters from the left than from the right.
I don't think anyone could possibly disagree with that statement. Sure, if you're on the left you could say that you think that's fair because those letters are more logical -- but you're going to come up against people on the other side who dismiss that reasoning flatly.
This is going to sound a little defensive of the paper, but I do think there's a bit of important insight I can share here. I worked closely with the letters editor for eight years and I saw firsthand how the job works. Every letters editor I worked with reported the same thing: They simply receive vastly more letters from the left than from the right. Other papers see similar patterns, as I've learned in discussions with my peers.
I'm not sure the reasons for this, though I would like to encourage more conservatives to send in letters. Two tips I'd like to offer to avoid common pitfalls:
1. Use your own words. It's a constant problem that letters editors get of lot of copy-and-paste jobs from chain emails. In fact, The Star ran a correction on Oct. 31 noting that a letter the previous week had been copied. They're sometimes difficult to spot before publication, as that correction proves.
2. Don't base your argument on matters of religion or morals.
By the way, neither of these points applies only to the right. They go for everyone.