AOJ Discussion List

Collegial, closed discussion list serves opinion journalists
Membership in ASNE makes you eligible for addition to the EditWrite (AOJ) online discussion list, but it does NOT automatically include access. It is granted after an application.
You need not be an editorial-page editor, letters or comment coordinator, commentary editor, or columnist; do you work with or plan to be among such people? In any medium? Welcome!
See tips below for

  1. benefits
  2. how to get in
  3. get off
  4. user hints
  5. customizing
  6. archival research

This discussion list originated before 2000. It was a valuable tool for the National Conference of Editorial Writers and then Association of Opinion Journalists. It continues independently in collaboration with the American Society of News Editors 2017. Volunteers maintain it on Google Groups. It is...

  • Useful: It lets members share many things, such as tips for handling letters to the editor, ideas for integrating social media with professional opinion journalism, spotting canned letters campaigns by pressure groups (fake grassroots campaigns, dubbed “turf,” after Astroturf fake grass), job openings, help with dilemmas – and more.
  • Funny: Especially Friday afternoons. Letter writers and candidates say the darndest things.
  • Civil: It has been remarkably free of the ranting and vitriol that have afflicted so many other discussion functions. We will strive to keep it that way, even during vigorous debate!
  • Discreet: It is a place where members discuss professional issues freely among peers with little fear of outsiders. Of course, anything in any digital system can be hacked and circulated, but it has not been a problem on our list. The Masthead quotes only with permission.
  • Supportive: Members offer encouragement when another shares a tale of difficulties, and joyous (not visibly jealous or envious) congratulations when another notches a victory.
  • Nice-sized: As of Jan. 28, 2017, the list had 252 readers. Most just watch, some contribute almost every week, and a few post oftener. You won't get a glut of mail, especially if you use Gmail or another service that collects all messages on a specific subject in a single "thread" or "conversation." The subject line always begins [AOJ] or [EditWrite].
  • Researchable: It allows access to thousands of prior postings [LINK archives] in archives.
  • Member benefit: Access to the list can be one of the great benefits of membership in ASNE.

It is easy. You have options.
The process works best if you use the email address associated with your ASNE membership, or a Gmail account you check regularly.

You must be an ASNE member first. We will check. Then you can get on the list any of several ways; the best two are:

  • Plan A: Ask to be added by sending a concise request to our lead coordinator (Chris Trejbal Send from the email that is in your ASNE membership info.


Either way please allow some time for volunteer work. Also, you may need to confirm your address and intent by replying to a Google robot’s message.

Google Groups offers several options for your use of the list. It provides such things as search for previous messages (Archives) and user-traffic info, and adjusting your profile.
Once you are a member, go to, log in, click my groups, click AOJ or or EditWrite. There, you can do lots. Look around. You may adjust your visible identity and privacy settings.
To choose daily summaries instead of individual emails, for example, click on members, on the icon for my membership (near upper right), and on "membership and email." Those settings allow you to tell Google Groups to send you each message, or to send them in batches as a daily digest.

Hints for use:

  1. Use Gmail or another service that will collect all messages with the same subject line in a single string, thread, topic, or "conversation." It then is easy to follow the discussion and to post a reply-all with the same subject, or to reply to an individual off-list. With some software, you can easily start a new subject; this is highly desirable if you habitually use Reply to initiate new topics.
  2. While writing your own message on an ongoing topic, you can tidy it up by deleting all, or all but the most highly relevant parts, of previous messages on a topic and the repetitive automated footers. You can direct your reply to the list (ReplyAll), to a recent poster, or some combination, or use a BCC. This editing of to-lines and past posts can help minimize in-box clutter and let your words stand out.
  3. If you tell Google to send you a digest, you'll see all the list traffic for that time frame (usually one day, or 25 messages) in one string. To reply to a specific item, you should start a new message and type (or copy-paste) the subject line exactly. If you simply hit Reply or Reply-All, your subject line will be "Daily Digest."
  4. At the receiving end, you can manage the flow of messages. All mail originating in the list will have a subject line that begins with (AOJ) or (EditWrite), so you can recognize list traffic at a glance, or use a sorting routine in your email to send it to a folder.
  5. Especially when you are new on the list, strive to include your real name and association, in the body of your message (as an automated footer, for example). This should also include the email address you are using, because some members get digests that omit such details.
  6. Be specific about which previous post you are commenting upon, and add context when relevant, because some members get messages individually and may not always see them in order.
  7. This might well come first: Once you get a note that you are on list, or start seeing its traffic, do a short message introducing yourself.

Getting off:
Every message from the list has basic list info, including a link to un-subscribe. That works automatically and directly. Sending a message to the list asking to be scrubbed does not. (Because of the federal CAN-SPAM law, if you take yourself off of a list, an affirmative opt-in by you will be required to get back on.)
You can find more than 2,300 previous message strings from our discussion list easily with fast keyword searching in the Google Groups site, which is also the place to update your list profile.
The messages date from November 2010, when a group led by Michael Zuzel moved us onto Google.
Many softwares collate discussion strings or threads as "conversations." The Google site calls them "topics."
If your emailer does not collate, or if you want earlier messages on a topic, or if you want to analyze the traffic on our list, or just enjoy some good chatter, or have Google help you see messages you did not read, go to:
Pick AOJ or EditWrite from your list of groups and search for the topic, keyword or phrase even in the message body, or author. For indexed topics, it is lightning fast; for other searches, there may be a lag of several seconds as Google scans every word in thousands of messages.
You can also adjust some of your Google Profile or list settings there.
Remember, we quote off-list only with author consent.
(Originally posted at circa 2014; updated for January 2017 JRM)