What’s In Another Man’s Inbox?

About two months ago, Tom Ricks, at the suggestion of another Washington Post editor, started giving his readers a peek into his inbox. Poynter had this in their ‘About the Job’ section.

“In a regular Sunday feature called, simply enough, “Tom Ricks’s Inbox,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter reprints an excerpt of a recent e-mail or e-mail exchange. Recently, most of the published messages have been coming from Iraq. They range from odd, like the one I link to above, to somber, like this one.

Former Washington Post Outlook editor Susan Glasser, recently promoted to assistant managing editor for national news, gets credit for the idea. Its beauty lies in its simplicity. The feature creates a nearly direct link between the source — who, in this case, is often overseas — and the reader.

“I think that, as intended, it gives people a feel of my daily e-mail exchanges about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and about general national-security issues,” Ricks said in an e-mail to Poynter Online. “This back-and-forth conversation wasn’t really possible in previous wars, for technological reasons. But now a lot of soldiers in Iraq have access to the Internet, and so it is possible to stay in touch with guys on the front lines.”