Further to my last post about letters to the editor, I heard from several people — some I knew, one I didn’t — after my letter about the retrograde fashion photo in The Globe was published. All shared my discomfort with and critique of the image, expressing appreciation for the fact that I’d bothered to write. (Note to media critics everywhere: advertisers, producers and editors are unlikely to make the changes you want to see if you don’t take the time to request them!)
One correspondent, who had bothered to share his views with Globe decision-makers, passed on the thoughtful correspondence he’d received from the paper’s editor in chief, John Stackhouse, and its publisher, Philip Crawley, both of whom indicated regret about the judgment behind the photograph’s inclusion in the paper.
That was the good news. The bad news? The photo was still available on the newspaper’s website. However, when this was pointed out to Mr. Stackhouse, he quickly arranged for it to be removed.
Not a world-changing bit of activism, but years of communicating my disenchantment with sexist portrayal practices to advertisers, broadcast producers and magazine and newspaper editors has taught me that:
- If you share your concerns in a clear, concise and timely way, substituting over-the-top condemnation or demands with a passionate and well supported argument that avoids personal insults, more often than not, you get a response.
- If approached fairly, recipients of such audience feedback are often grateful for the feedback, and most will try to do the right thing in response.
- Media producers also typically assume that if one or two people write in to express their concern about an issue, another 20, 50 or 100 others likely shared the concern, but just didn’t call or email.
- The more feedback received about a particular issue, the more likely the editor of the letters’ section is to include some of the commentary.