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Whatever -- it's probably been in 'Mail Call' or 'You Said It'

April 03, 2005|by TONY MULIERI

I'd like to go to Cancun for spring break.

Please send money.

Just kidding, of course.

If you've been following "Mail Call/You Said It" in The Daily Mail and The Morning Herald recently, you know about the Cancun reference.

It's been hilarious.

It has been a theme that has kept me sane while I've waded through the mass of more somber calls we've received in recent weeks. Mail Call used to run only in The Daily Mail. Since we started running "You Said It" in The Morning Herald, it seems like we've been flooded with calls.

At one of our recent editors' meetings, it was noted that the readers' call-in line was one of the most popular features in the paper, according to a recent readership survey.

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I can believe it.

I'm one of the editors who deals with the call-in responses on a daily basis. It's a daunting task as we try to make the column as interesting as we can each day while trying to include as many responses as possible.

The Cancun reference first popped up a couple of weeks ago as a tongue-in-cheek response to a letter to the editor that ran in the paper earlier.

Like many other responses in the call-in column, the theme took off and had a life of its own.

Some readers took the call seriously and responded so. Others got the joke and ran with it.

And that's why the column works.

"Mail Call/You Said It" is like a window on the community. It allows readers to vent about issues of the day or just go into a tirade about how someone cut them off on Dual Highway, the use of cell phones while driving or those darn Christmas lights up at Easter.

Terri Schiavo, the Ten Commandments, school buses, property taxes, cell phones, Easter egg hunts, gas prices, the city election, President Bush, Iraq - all fodder for "Mail Call/You Said It" in recent weeks.

Some readers think there is a conspiracy and claim they are discriminated against because their calls don't ever appear. We don't have caller ID. We don't know who's calling. A part-time staffer transcribes the calls and files them to an editor.

Some calls are screened out for various reasons. Some are too long and rambling and others we just can't decipher. And many are just outlandish. I wish you could read some of the calls we've taken out. It would probably be a best seller.

The column is like a soap opera. You can miss it for a few days, go back and it's like you never left.

I've heard readers say they either love it or they hate it. Purists have asked why the paper lets readers make comments without having to leave their name. I guess the best way to answer that is that it offers a voice to those who might not otherwise have one.

And besides, it makes for interesting reading.

Call 301-791-6236 or 1-800-626-6397, ext. 6236, to leave a recorded message.

We're waiting for your calls.

Tony Mulieri is managing editor of The Daily Mail. He may be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7647, or by e-mail at tonym@herald-mail.com.

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