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Letters to the Editor

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 23 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Letter To Editor Letter To Editor Format

It may come as a surprise to you but writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper if it’s published, can often have a greater impact upon the readership than the articles written by journalists themselves and this is probably even truer for local newspapers.

And, whilst a newspaper can edit your text, it is not allowed to change any of the meaning of what you’ve written nor put its own ‘spin’ on your copy so you can be assured that what is printed is virtually what you wanted to say and in the way you wanted it said.

Not only do letters that get published in newspapers allow you to get your points across to a far wider audience, you can gain a real sense of satisfaction out of seeing your name and, more importantly, your opinions set down in print.

How to Write a Letter to an Editor

When writing to a newspaper editor, make sure that any factual information you include is accurate. We demand it of journalists so we should demand it of ourselves. Try to cover all your points as briefly as possible. This might not always be possible if you are writing about a contentious issue with lots of points to raise, but you must remember that editors receive hundreds and sometimes thousands of letters a day from readers and if you can get your views across concisely and make them interesting, then you’re more likely to have your letter published.

Even if you are writing about an issue which has annoyed you, you should remain polite and get your points across without being offensive and you should try to write in the ‘first person’, i.e. your own point of view as editors are more likely to publish your letter if you have first hand experience of the issue(s) you are talking about.

Some people prefer to not have their name published and, whilst this is perfectly acceptable to most editors, they are far more likely to publish your letter if you decide not to protect your anonymity. Likewise, if you are a member of a particular focus group or organisation, it’s better to include your name as opposed to ‘hiding behind the banner’ of a particular group.

Here is a letter to a local newspaper complaining about newspaper coverage of late night bus travel services over Christmas.

Dear Editor,

As a bus driver myself, I wish to express my views about the introduction of the late night bus services that run over the Christmas holiday period as they are totally at odds with the opinions of your newspaper which, in my opinion, do not paint a balanced picture.

Your paper continues to extol the virtues of the late night services as “providing a superb service and a welcome alternative to witnessing the fights and scuffles outside the various taxi ranks around town.”

Whilst this may be true, as someone who’s at the sharp end of driving the buses after midnight over the festive period, I think that you should also counterbalance your views and include the other side of the story.

For example, the vast majority of passengers after midnight are almost exclusively teenagers and young people in their 20s who, for the most part, are the worse for wear at best and blind drunk at worst when they get onto the bus. Many of them have been verbally abusive to me and some have even refused to pay. There has been the odd fight on the bus and people have vomited on the seats and floor several times with little thought as to the extra work the cleaners have to put in, not to mention the passengers that have to use the bus after them.

Whilst, in principle, the late night services do provide a safe way of getting home over the festive period and takes some of the burden away from our already over-populated taxi services, there is a total lack of respect for these extra facilities that are laid on over Christmas and New Year and I, for one, am just glad that it’s all over for another year.

Are we going to get to Christmas 2007 and have the same problem? Hopefully, I’ll have another job by then. Meanwhile, I hope you will publish this letter to highlight the other side of the story.

Yours sincerely,

Name and address supplied.

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Does a newspaper have absolute control over your letter once it is submitted? Can they edit it in such a way that the point is lost or worse the meaning changed?Once you submit a letter can you withdraw your permission to have it published.
Ben - 19-Aug-11 @ 8:41 PM
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