EFFECTIVE LETTER WRITING
Tips Adapted from CAMERA.org
- Be quick. Respond while the issue is still fresh. Ideally, try to send your letter within 24 hours of publication of the article.
- Be clear. If you cannot summarize your message in one or two sentences then it’s not clear enough in your mind. Pinpoint in stark, unambiguous terms what you want to communicate.
- Be specific. Why was the article unfair? Did it show lack of context, imbalanced reporting, or omission of key facts? For example: “Your report inappropriately quoted only pro-Palestinian sources, leaving the Israeli position unrepresented.”
- Be concise. Most publications will not print a letter to the editor longer than 250 words. Editors are more likely to publish a letter that they don’t have to spend time shortening.
- Be focused. While an article may contain numerous instances of bias, focus your critique on just one or two. It’s better to fully explain one point than to inadequately cover five.
- Know the goal. You want your letter to inspire the media to change. When possible, ask the media to issue a correction based on your points. A good way to end your letter is to ask: “Can I expect a rethinking of your editorial policy on this point?”
- Request a reply. Let the media know there is a consequence to biased reporting — even if the consequence is having to answer hundreds of e-mails! You could end your letter with: “I would appreciate a response explaining why you have allowed such a biased article to appear in your fine publication.”
- Stick to the facts. Preserve the integrity of the HonestReporting campaign by keeping your comments clean and respectful. Hostile or overly-emotional language is counter-productive. Accusing the media of anti-Semitism will always be met with great resistance (besides being frequently untrue). This is not the place to vent your frustration.
- Write as a concerned individual. Mentioning that you are part of an organized campaign may lessen the impact of your letter.
- Use the CC button. Maximize your efforts by sending a copy of your letter not just to the editor, but also to the reporter, foreign editor, publisher, and even advertisers and members of Congress.
- Include contact info. Before publishing a letter, most papers will call to verify that you wrote it. Remember to include your full name, title (if applicable), address, and daytime phone number.
- Follow up. When possible, follow up with a phone call to the comments editor to ask if your letter will be published. If the editor doesn’t remember your letter, offer to read it over the phone.
- Keep us in the loop. Whenever you receive a response to your correspondence (other than a simple acknowledgement), send a copy of that response along with your original correspondence, to:email@example.com