One of the most enjoyable parts of my morning ritual is reading the letters to the editor in the Union-Tribune. This is where everyone from the politicians to professors to some old geezer in Lakeside gets to have his say on the news of the day, and I see it as important and instructive.

Even if sometimes the letter writers’ logic or articulation of it act as an indictment of the American education system, it’s a good way to see outside the bubble I live in of mostly educated, well-informed insider types.

In my life, I don’t come across people who, for instance, say hateful things about gay people or Mexicans. Ever. Truly, reading the letters to the editor after the Gay Pride Parade or a border-fence article is a way of keeping in touch with how differently some people think. It’s depressing and sometimes makes my blood boil, but I’m still grateful I have the opportunity to know how other people view issues and the world.

The letters to the editor in major metro dailies guard against one of the dangers of our increasingly fragmented media, and that is that we’ll end up living in our echo chambers where we don’t have to consider ideas outside our own. Obviously, it’s comforting to have a venue where people think like you. I’m thrilled, for instance, that voiceofsandiego.org has provided a venue where political junkies can go a little deeper on local policy issues and banter with elected officials, which you just don’t get in the daily paper.

But I submit that it will be very, very bad for our nation if we lose the mass communication aspect of newspapers. We need the Big Booming Voice of San Diego that is the U-T, because it gives a booming voice to the little guy.

Has a letter to the editor ever changed your mind? Write to me at rlaing@sdchamber.org and tell me your story.

RACHEL LAING

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