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E-mail away!

As a newspaper reporter, I often find myself interacting with different segments of the community, whether that be local officials or average Joes. And stories often get members of this community talking, either at the water cooler or on the Austin Daily Herald’s website.

Because of this, I from time to time receive reader e-mails regarding a story, or future stories I could do. Personally, I love getting these letters and think this interaction is a key element of what we do (and should strive to do).

I say all this as a transition to a recent blog post I read from the Washington Post’s ombudsman, Andrew Alexander. The post discusses what happened (or, more specifically, what didn’t happen) when the Post began putting reporters’ e-mail addresses with stories in print as opposed to just online. Many reporters were worried that the change would lead to an influx of new e-mails that would be impossible to manage. That, however, hasn’t happened — an informal staff survey showed that many only noticed a slight change, if they noticed anything at all.

With that being said, I think it’s clear that putting e-mail addresses with stories is a great thing that all papers should do (and many already do). This test case proves that reporters shouldn’t worry about an onslaught of e-mails. However, if the change leads to just a few more insightful comments in a reporter’s inbox, then the idea should be embraced. After all, journalists are here to serve the community, and doing that requires interactivity.

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