With today's editorial-page missive on transit-fare increases, Larry Penner of Great Neck, N.Y. reaches a new personal milestone -- it's his 46th letter published in the Times in less than ten years!
In the wake of last week's Times publication of a fake letter from the Mayor of Paris, Penner's ability to land his opinions on the Times's editorial page so often reveals yet another lax standard in paper's letters department.
Or do they just like the idea of limiting the views expressed in the paper to a tiny handful of regulars?
Maybe. Today's page also includes a letter from Joe Martin in Seattle, his eighth; Andrew Ludasi of East Windsor, N.J., his fifth; four letters from writers with one previous letter published, and only three letters from first-time correspondents.
Penner's letter-writing career in the Times began on April 14, 1999, noting the technological changes in the media then altering the newspaper business:
Many more people are now receiving their news from the Internet; others are tuning in to allnews radio and television news stations. Even more may be using cable television channels that provide the fast-breaking news that tends to become stale by the time it reaches print.
How true! Perhaps buoyed by his prescience, Penner kept those cards and letters coming. The next month -- on May 23, 1999 -- he got his second letter published, a defense of Staten Island. On August 13, 1999, the Times printed a third Penner letter, this one on Republican politics. A fourth letter appeared on October 22, 1999 addressed public funding for stadiums.
Penner was clearly on a roll! In 2000, the Times printed seven more letters from Penner -- five on the editorial page, and one in the business section. After a letterless lull in 2001, Penner picked up the pace in 2002 (3 letters).
Penner has done well ever since, though a particular high point had to be the period between March 30 and April 13, 2003 -- when, in less than a month, he had three separate letters published in the Times on different topics!
The Times has always tended to bundle Penner's opinions close together. Who can forget the Labor Day weekend in 2004, when it published a Penner letter about Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday, September 2 -- and then another Penner letter about Hillary Clinton the following Sunday, September 5?
But hey -- 2004 was a banner year for Penner, who had ten letters published that year, a personal best.
Today's letter marks Penner's sixth for 2008. Larry, here's wishing you a happy, healthy New Year with lots of fresh, succinct new opinions on important matters.