The accessibility a normal girl like me has to media outlets with statewide and nationwide audiences is truly a blessing.
Readers can send in letters to the editor for newspapers and magazines–by snail mail if they really want to and more conveniently, through email. Newspapers and magazines aren’t exactly “new media,” but they’ve developed websites, created mobile applications, and embraced social networking sites that bring to their traditional media classification a dimension of new media.
On the one hand, some of that new media influence can be seen within the paper publications. For example, newspapers and magazines may cite columnists’ Twitter handles next to their bylines or print readers’ comments from the website or Facebook fan page. On the other hand, traditional media outlets have an online counterpart on which they break news and encourage interactivity through comments, shares, and likes.
About two years ago, on Nov. 9, 2010, I went to SLAMonline.com, the new media counterpart to the traditional SLAM Magazine. I was on a search for a contact email address. Sure enough, I found it with a quick keyword and a couple of clicks. I then sent in my first letter to SLAM, “your source for the best in basketball.”
I’m just a freshman in college who doesn’t know what to do with her life–major or career-wise…heck even classes next semester. I got really into basketball about 5 years ago, and I love the Knicks, so the Danilo and Amar’e love you guys delivered in the last issue was much appreciated. Your magazine inspired me to write for my high school paper, providing NBA and Knicks coverage. The paper wasn’t totally–dare I say it– legit, but it satisfied my small school, and I had a blast seeing my article printed. I love your style and learned how to write from you. The sarcasm and witty words from every featured article to NOYZ to the Ed’s responses in Trash Talk have influenced me. I hope I can figure out what I want to do with my life soon, because as of right now, I’m lost. All I know is that I love the days when I get home to see the new ish of SLAM waiting for me on my kitchen table.
Knicks lost by 27 tonight…dropped 2 in a row to teams they should’ve pounded, but what else is new?
Habeeba Husain from Somerville, NJ
An hour after I hit send on my Gmail account, Lang Whitaker responded letting me know I had just missed the deadline, but he wrote, “great letter,” which meant a whole lot. I got a reply in real time from one of the editors of my favorite magazine. Because of my and his access to a laptop, computer, or smartphone, we were able to communicate.
As much as we want to believe we don’t need validation, sometimes we do. It was nice–really stinking awesome, actually–to hear from a man who made his name known in both the traditional and new media industries. Mr. Whitaker is a writer/editor for SLAM, contributor to NBA TV, and a sports author.
I kept emailing the magazine more “Trash Talk,” and over the past two years, I was fortunate enough to have four of my letters published, with three of them as the featured letters. It made me think that maybe–just maybe–I had some flickering spark in my writing that was intriguing, attractive, and unique that I needed to further develop.
Two weeks ago in one of my journalism classes, my professor invited the opinions editor from The Times of Trenton to guest lecture. The editor had us practice headline writing for letters that people had sent in, and surprisingly, I found it fun to think of something short and witty to reflect another person’s thoughts. At the end of class, our professor gave us an assignment: write a letter to an editor. It was a breath of fresh air to express my opinion in an assignment for a journalism class and not be required to be completely objective. I wrote my letter about the Knicks-Nets season opener postponement, emailed it to my professor, who forwarded it to The Times of Trenton opinions editor, who published it Thursday online and in print.
Again, that validation was really stinking awesome. For me, it’s a motivation. Sure, these examples are merely letters to publications catered to very specific niches, New Jerseyans and NBA fans, but they’ve helped me.
They’ve helped me realize the fun of interacting with the media–both new and traditional at the same time. They’ve helped me understand how a traditional media outlet’s online counterpart has advanced its readership and feedback. They’ve helped me discover that I am living in an era in which my voice, regardless of how soft-spoken it is in person, can be heard.