An emailer today posed a question I hear from time to time about people who write in to Letters in the Opinion section:
"Is it too naive for me to wonder if The Star could choose to relay (positive, not scurrilous) comments from readers to writers? That would constitute a public service by facilitating communication between like-minded citizens, I would think."
He underlined again that he would expect this only for positive feedback.
It's an interesting question -- and frankly one with a built-in roadblock in these days of diminishing resources in all newsrooms: I believe it would be a massive job for the letters editor, particularly for those who write via postal mail. I doubt it could be accomplished pragmatically.
Letters must be signed with real names and the writer's city of residence (though I know The Star and all papers do get hoaxed on this sometimes). And I've heard from many writers through the years who tell me they've received harassing phone calls from people who disagreed with what they've written. That's a real shame, but I also think it's part of the price of airing one's thoughts publicly.
Do you think it would be a privacy concern for The Star to facilitate one-way communication such as this, giving the original letter-writer to the option to reply if he or she likes? Something about it makes me hesitate, though I can't put my finger on exactly what.