Wick Communications

You’ve got mail

In Online media on February 12, 2010 at 10:26 am

The Washington Post’s ombudsman has answered a question that has puzzled me for years: Does adding your e-mail address at the top or bottom of your story mean that readers are apt to use it to contact you?

The answer is, “no.” At least not at the Washington Post nor at any of the newspapers I’ve worked for in the last 10 years. Which isn’t to say that we should stop offering those addresses. Sometimes making an effort to connect with readers must be seen as its own reward.

Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander reports that some Post staffers cringed when they were told their e-mail addresses would be added to the end of their stories. They were worried they wouldn’t have time to respond to a resulting deluge of reader queries, kudos and complaints. Well, that deluge never came.

Actually, the concern among Post writers was more than a little baffling. The days when we could consider ourselves just too busy and important to respond to readers are long gone. In fact, any business that is plagued by customers interested in its product is nothing less than blessed. We should all be so lucky that we simply can’t respond to the many readers who want our attention…

To be honest, I am not sure I have ever gotten a single e-mail as a result of a reader reading my e-mail address atop one of my printed stories. I think anyone so motivated to put down the paper and write me, would have no trouble finding me online – regardless of whether I included the e-mail bug with my story. (Online stories are another matter. I’m sure many readers appreciate the convenience of the live link to our e-mail addresses when reading stories online.)

I think including those e-mail addresses is important, regardless of whether anyone uses them. I think it sends a message to readers: We’re here. We want to hear from you. What do you think? In fact, e-mail me at clay.lambert@wickcommunications.com

— Clay

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