Writing to the media
A letter to the editor of a newspaper or magazine is an effective way to make a point in public.
Letters are traditionally well read. There are a few very basic rules that need to be followed
- Keep it short (about 150 - 180 words)
- Supply your name. Whatever the newspaper or magazine's policy on the use of noms de plume they will still require your name, address and daytime phone number
- Do not send the same letter to two or more newspapers or magazines
- Be topical and be prompt. If you are writing about a court case that has just occurred in your community or similar event, then get your letter to the editor within a couple of days, while the public interest is still there
- Keep to the point with short snappy sentences (One idea per sentence)
- If you are replying to something already written then briefly restate the point you are commenting on at the beginning of your letter
- If you can, support your argument with facts or expert opinion
- Show your strong feelings but avoid personal abuse or sweeping generalisations
- Be your own editor: Read what you have written critically. Does it make sense? Revise to clarify the meaning. Cross out all unnecessary words. Read it again. Keep it active: 'the boy ran up the hill' is better than 'the hill was run up by the boy'.
- Send it by email, fax or post. Sending it by email or fax saves time, which can be important. If the editor thinks the time has passed then s/he won't publish even the best of letters.