To The Editor
Centered around The New York Times’ Letters Department, people from across the country write letters to the editor (LTE), sustaining free speech in a time of political and technological upheaval.
As personal letter writing has become virtually extinct, why are LTEs still a vibrant and, even, growing medium for individual expression? To The Editor will explore the motivations and practices of people who steadfastly — or for the first time — write LTEs and the editorial interests and processes of the newspapers that publish them, focusing on two very different papers – The New York Times and the Advertiser Democrat of Norway, Maine.
At its core, To The Editor is about engagement — personal, civic, societal, human, inspired by the impulse of the individual to have an impact on the larger community. The film will examine the history of LTE writing in the United States, from the early eighteenth century to the present, chronicling how it reflects a primal human desire for expression, recognition and perpetuity that is threatened by the transience of the digital age. As Doris Fenig of Floral Park, NY writes: “I feel helpless, and so, I write my letter to the editor.