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The Role of Newspapers: a Forum for Public Expression

The article ``Newspapers and the `Now' of Public Thought,'' Sept. 25, inadvertently reveals a myopia of newspapers. The author calls newspapers ``a voice of the people,'' but emphasizes that the role and purpose of newspapers is to ``tell the citizen what he needs to know .... [newspapers] inform the public conciousness ... [they] lead, they teach.'' But do they listen? Newspapers do, indeed, see themselves as a voice of the people. What newspapers (and other media) are not, is a voice for the people. Where can an informed citizen adequately voice a contrary view? Letters to the editor are too limited and television interviews and discussions are often a travesty. The viewer remains a silent spectator.

What newspapers need is a public forum in print - a New England town hall meeting - where citizens can give expression to their very best judgements. Newspapers need true communication, not a one-way expression. Then, perhaps, it can be claimed that ``newspapers reflect the existential `now' of public thought.'' Allan Shields, San Diego, San Diego State University

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Reading and responsibility The editorial ``The Future of Reading,'' Sept. 25, raises a number of concerns regarding the ``steady erosion'' of reading and literacy in today's American youth.

The main problem with this generation is that a great number of us had, and still have, very little parental guidance. When mothers and fathers are not present, children are left to their own devices. They are not going to seek out literature and books to challenge them, but will look for the easiest and most entertaining way to fill their time, usually television.

The editorial raises some valid concerns, but its final message should be directed toward the older generation, which has a responsibility to its children. Dana Kelly Chiasson, Eugene, Ore.

You are right on target! Skills which exercise the thinking process are a must. While reading is the basis of learning, writing ability should be added to the equation. If today's parents are not willing or able to read, how can they appreciate the value of these skills for their children?

Reading has to mean more than ``economic empowerment.'' What individuals read should be enjoyable and thought-provoking. Children and parents should discuss and write about what they read. This requires a sense of responsibility on behalf of the individual. Adeline Anderson, Grayling, Mich.

Separate voices The article ``New Twist for Nature Poetry,'' Sept. 24, states that ``science was getting poetic ... and had been poetic since Einstein.'' I disagree. I see no relationship at all between science and poetry. Poetry is about emotions while science is strictly factual, dealing with absolutes. There is no common ground. Robert Frost often pointed this out.

The lyric voice of the poet and the calculating, reasoning voice of the scientist will always be at odds. William Beyer, Belvidere, Ill.

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