Introducing Letters To The Editor

Two weeks ago, this site became Southern Gospel Journal. In the announcement, I noted that it is a change in perspective, not merely a name change. The re-branding included several new or re-launched columns, and an expanded “about” section for readers new to Southern Gospel (or to Christianity altogether).

One change remains:Β It is time to upgrade the comments section.

Ever since blogging became popular, many blog’s comment sections have been free-for-alls where anything goes. I have never been comfortable with this notion. Conversations about this genre are valuable, if they are quality conversations: Insights, respectfully expressed.

The new name for our discussion section, “Letters To The Editor,” is more consistent with the new branding and with this vision. As before, we will still welcome quality discussion. On every post, we will publish the submissions that are most thoughtful and insightful and within the basic comment guidelines. Also, every week, we will highlight a few of the week’s most worthy letters to the editor in our Friday News Roundup column.

Around 95% of the people who visit this website never post a comment. For some visitors, this website is their first exposure to current Southern Gospel culture. Let’s set them a good example. But, more importantly, this site has a fair number of international visitors; for a few, this website may be their first introduction to how Christians treat one another. We must be mindful of the example we set for them through our words and deeds.

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24 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. Daniel,

    I’m not a big fan of this at all. There are times a post is made that may not interest me, but the comments will draw me in and cause me to read further. I respect your desire to make a good representation to new visitors, but I don’t believe suppressing conversation is going to lead to the furtherance of the genre.



    • But there will still be discussion. There will still be disagreement. Neither is going away. I’m merely asking readers to put time and thought into their comments.

      I don’t want the grammar and reasoning skill level in the conversations here to deteriorate to the level that it has on Twitter. But things have slowly been heading in that direction. I’ve been contemplating how to counteract that trend for months, and only settled on this option after months of seriously considering more drastic measures (like removing comments from the site).

      Nobody calls it “suppressing conversation” or “censorship” when newspapers only publish reasonably grammatical and well-reasoned letters to the editor, from a variety of perspectives. In the context of a newspaper or journal, requiring a minimal level of grammar and reasoning abilities is called common sense.

      • This explanation makes sense. The explanation you just offered painted a different impression from what I gathered in the original post. Sorry for the misunderstanding.


      • No problem, and thanks. I actually had typed much of what I ended up posting in response to your comment as part of the draft for the initial post. As I was working on the initial post, I thought it had run too long and that I was over-explaining. I guess I was mistaken!

      • I certainly understand your desire to keep things positive, as much as possible, and admire your dedication to having a site which represents this music in a professional light. Unfortunately, the grammatically-correct objective will possibly eliminate comments even from some of the artists in our genre who might attempt to post here and who have the best insight into the music and ministry. Also, at stake is the elimination of comments from those who might be less educated or schooled in the techniques of grammar. These people often have some of the most heartfelt and sincere comments even if their comments might not be so eloquently worded. Thank you again for such a professional journal on southern gospel music!

      • You’re welcome!

        Eloquence is not required. If eloquence were required, then I suppose I would not be able to approve my daily posts, either!

        Also, I will make exceptions to the grammar rule for comments where the content is so compelling that it requires an exception.

  2. Daniel, I think this will be good. I know in the past some of my comments have been less than redemptive and I want to apologize for that. Comments made in the heat of the moment tend to be the ones that get us in trouble. So a “filter” is not a bad thing.

    • Thank you! Fully accepted, and I’m looking forward to the future!

  3. Wise move. Is it proverbs that says when words are many, sin is not absent? I’m sure people do not intend to say hurtful or wrong things so this should be helpful to think first.

    • You’re right; it’s Proverbs 10:19: “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.” (No, I didn’t quote that off the top of my head. I looked it up!)

  4. Just seeing the phrase “submit a letter to the editor” makes it sound more official and not like such a free-for-all.

    The one thing I’m wondering about is how strict you will be about only publishing comments that are the “most thoughtful and insightful and within the basic comment guidelines”.

    • That’s a good way of putting it; sounding more official and less of a free-for-all.

      The answer is: Not terribly strict, unless a post has an unusually overwhelming number of letters to the editor that add very little to the discussion. (There’s only been two posts like that in the last six to nine months.)

  5. Hi, Daniel, We are new to your site and just became email subscribers recently. So, we weren’t here to see any past negativity. We just wanted to say that we LOVE your site, and we appreciate everything you do to promote Southern Gospel, but more importantly, to promote JESUS CHRIST! So often, in our quests for popularity and self-promotion, we can forget what this is all about in the first place. You have a very humble, Christ-like spirit, and it shows here. It must take an enormous amount of time to compile and keep up with everything you do to maintain and keep this site so interesting and up to date. We are very grateful to you for your dedication and for your desire to keep things Christ-like here….for truly that is what is of upmost importance. A big THANK YOU to you for keeping things on the right track. We look forward to following your site! God bless and keep you in His care, Cheryl Smith

    • Thank you very much! Yes, it takes a lot of time, and yes, promoting Jesus Christ is the most important thing. You are welcome, and thanks for reading!

  6. Hi Daniel,

    It all depends on what you’re writing about.

    If the article is a factual account, there’s not much open for discussion. For example, ABC Quartet announces the upcoming release of their new album ‘XYZ’. There isn’t much there for discussion.

    If opinion is given, ie ABC Quartet’s new single release will become the song of the year, then there’s the possiblity of a discussion, espcially is someone thinks the song is a terrible or mediocre.

    Personally, I like a combination of both.

  7. Sorry, Daniel, but I guess I’m still a little confused. Will all comments that are pertinent and grammatically correct still be published? Or will it just be just the best? I also read all the comments on a subject that I’m really interested in, and appreciate other’s insights. It did get a little long when people were trying to win that certain # prize; but that isn’t the normal. πŸ™‚ And, also I agree there needs to be filters that you maintain.

    Keep up the great work! I appreciate the site so much, even though I don’t comment all the time. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you! It will depend on the topic. For most posts, I will approve most submissions that are pertinent and (reasonably) grammatically correct.

  8. I was afraid that it would be just a matter of time until this happened, and it’s unfortunate. I can see that critical or even “perceived as critical” comments and discussion will no longer be allowed. I know Daniel’s desire has always been for things to be “positive, happy, unicorns and butterflies,” but there are real issues and real life conflicts that happen and should be discussed, even in the world of Southern Gospel.
    Best of luck to all those that still get a chance to comment. As always Daniel, thank you for your hard work in keeping us all abreast of the news in the wonderful genre of Southern Gospel music.

    • I recognize that negative things happen. Where appropriate and pertinent, they have been and will be discussed here. But there is a right way and a wrong way to do it, as well as a right time and a wrong time. When it’s the right time and done the right way, those are discussions we will have.

  9. Love the new format!! Ive learned a lot about S.G. M. already!! I*ve been a fan of S.G.M.for 35 yrs!! Been to the N.Q.C. all those yrs!! There is non better on Gods good earth!! Thanks!!

    • You are welcome, and thank you!

  10. There seems to be misinterpretation of Daniel’s intent here. By publishing “submissions that are most thoughtful and insightful and within the basic comment guidelines”, it seems a lot are interpreting it as a form of suppression or censorship. I don’t think that is his intent at all.

    It seems to me all Daniel wants to do is keep submissions on topic, to the point, and as error-free as possible. He has put a lot of time into each post he’s written since 2006 and he wants us to do the same.

  11. I might be wrong, but from what I have seen, as far as people posting since you announced this, you are not going to get the number of people commenting as you once did. Any thoughts?

    • I predict 25% fewer comments.

      There also haven’t been any huge news stories or controversial posts since Saturday.