MSgt USAF (retired) Joseph in Ohio inquires, “As a multi-decade reader I find readers’ comments almost as entertaining as the stories. This brings me to my question. Being an English major I would like to know what the collective is for ‘obliviot’?”
The Minor Format Change introduced last week brought a lot of positive comments. Just one example: “Love, love, love the new way you tease the ‘missing’ Premium stories.” —Mark in New Jersey. That’s awfully nice. But, of course, there were protest unsubscribes last week because I stopped gathering all the “stories you missed” summaries into a large paragraph, and instead left their story slugs up among the full stories, and included a brief summary of the story there. A few examples:
I surveyed Premium edition readers to see what they might come up with to improve This is True — what would make it more of a “must-read” for them? This page reports on the results of the 3-question survey …and they had a lot to say — it’s long! There were a lot of comments, and a fair number of suggestions.
In all, there were nearly 1,100 survey responses, which represents a very large percentage of the Premium audience — certainly very “statistically valid.”
What’s more patronizing: making a joke at someone’s expense, or the contention that the subject of the joke is not capable of defending themselves?
This week it’s war veterans who are not capable, or so some readers seem to be saying. Let’s start with the story — from True’s 8 February 2015 issue:
A Letter from Roland in Kent, England (where my family name comes from), really got spinning through my mind, because it really helps to put everything in perspective. Let me explain — starting with Roland’s letter (the italics are from the original):
Tom in Nevada asks, “Given the amount of grief you give the well deserved Floridians, is there an disproportionate number of subscribers from Florida or maybe a disproportionately low number that might be turned off from the constant, once again well deserved, coverage of their exploits? Just curious.”
A reader seemed a bit dubious about the lead story last week (6 July 2014, Issue 1047). So let’s start with the story, and then the comment by John in the U.K.:
Once per month, there’s an extra story in the Premium edition without a tagline, so that readers can try their hand at ending the story. I call it the Reader Tagline Challenge, and the readers come up with a wide variety of funny endings to the extra story.
I thought it was clear enough that “the Norman Rockwell” story isn’t really about Rockwell per se, but the comments about the story on Facebook are so out of left field, I thought I’d revisit it. First, the story itself, from the 1 December 2013 issue:
I got a protest unsubscribe this weekend from “EJ” in California, who complained:
It has nearly been a decade since the price for a Premium upgrade changed — it went to $24. Premium subscribers themselves have said it’s too cheap. I wanted some detail, and was boggled by what they told me.
When people unsubscribe from This is True, they have the opportunity to leave comments. Most don’t, and oddly some think they “have to” (I mean really: “No comment.”?) And of course some use it as an opportunity to protest — like when I tell the truth that they don’t want to hear.
A tagline on a story this week was designed to provoke. I even talked about the tagline and said it was to provoke. Yet it still brought complaints and “disagreement” — even though it’s impossible to agree or disagree with my thoughts, since the tag didn’t reveal my thoughts.
It’s nice when someone else goes on a rant, so I don’t have to!
A story by Mike Straw in last week’s (30 December 2012) issue went for the laugh in the tagline. A reader — Wayne, in the U.S. military and deployed to Afghanistan — thought Mike should have gone more for “thought-provoking.” Let’s start with the story:
After my previous blog post, the response from readers was fantastic — the clarity, the different ideas, the stating the problem without blaming or exonerating guns. But Rob in Sydney Australia didn’t seem to “get” what I was saying that in the national “debate” about mass shootings, we’re asking the wrong questions. It came to a head after this comment, by Tyler in Massachusetts:
After years and years on this distribution, Jeff in Virginia unsubscribed last week, complaining there were “too many ads for the premium edition — it like [sic] a never-ending pledge-week on PBS.”
This is True has tackled the issue of people choosing to be offended on a number of occasions (such as in the tagline of this story).
Most times, of course, the offended are complaining about a story, not embracing it. On most of those occasions, when someone is writing to complain how they’ve chosen to be offended by something I said (or, often, didn’t say!), I’ll often get an amusing response from other readers — the ones who don’t unsubscribe in protest.
I’ve made no secret that I’m pretty much 100 percent egalitarian. I’ve defended the religious, the non-religous, the “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians,” and many others in True’s stories. I’m interested in whether people walk their talk, not whether they’re religious, gay, atheist, pagan, Muslim, employed, educated — whatever.