by Charles Mooney
At the last CM4RG general membership meeting someone mentioned having a difficult time getting a letter to the editor accepted for publication. As a result, I offered to compile some information about writing letters to the editor.
I have provided some notes below on basic letter writing information and on things that I have learned about writing letters to the editor, the brief description of what the Pilot suggests for letters, and the links to the Register’s guide and articles on writing letters to the editor.
I have attached the Register guide that I like the best which is entitled “…Refresher course on writing…”, and I have attached the notes from a conversation that Eleanor Egan and I had with John Canalis the editor of the Pilot.
One key point from the conversation with Canalis is that if you are making a statement of fact, then it is helpful to attach the reference you have used to support the fact to the e-mail along with the submission of the letter. You might even highlight the referenced passage to make it easy to find.
The most basic information about letters to the editor is where to send them and how long can they be.
For the Daily Pilot you can send them to the e-mail address below or my preference is to send them to the editor (John Canalis) at johncanalislatimescom. The Pilot prefers letters to be about 500 words or less.
Letters to the Register can be sent to the Letters Editor, Betty Talbert at btalbertocregistercom or lettersocregistercom. The Register prefers letters of about 250 words and op-eds of about 500 words. There is no hard and fast rule because I have seen very long letters in the Register.
The Current is the Register’s local newspaper similar to the Pilot but it is only published along with the Register on Thursday’s. Send your submissions and a head and shoulders photo of yourself to currentocregistercom or to Community Editor Cerise Valenzuela at cvalenzuelaocregistercom.
Keep your essay to 300 words or less.
A more recent alternative is to submit a letter to Mike Harmanos at mikecm4rgorg for inclusion on the CM4RG website with a link to it in CM4RG’s Wednesday Wrap. Usually these letters appear as the author’s personal opinion and not the opinion of CM4RG. Some time in the future we may have letters that represent the position of CM4RG and that would be indicated. These letters still go through a vetting process for consistency with CM4RG’s mission, accuracy, and tone. There is no official word limit but targeting less than 600 words would be good.
Just remember that you usually only submit a letter to one place at a time.
A few things I have learned about letter writing
I have learned a lot from others about writing letters to the editor. Tom and Eleanor Egan have been particularly helpful. One of their key points is about the lead paragraph which is not covered in the Register’s letter writing guides.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A lead, or lede, paragraph in literature is the opening paragraph of an article, essay, news story or book chapter. It precedes the main body of the article, and it gives the reader the main idea of the story.
Journalistic ledes emphasize grabbing the attention of the reader. In journalism, the failure to mention the most important, interesting or attention-grabbing elements of a story in the first paragraph is sometimes called “burying the lede.” Ledes in essays summarize the outline of the argument and conclusion that follows in the main body of the essay (This is what applies to most of the letters to the editor that we write.).
Most standard news ledes include brief answers to the questions of who, what, why, when, where, and how the key event in the story took place (This is a little less applicable to the letters to the editor that we write, but it should be kept in mind.).
Another good tip is to have others read what you have written for clarity, typos and grammar before you submit it for publication. You will get better with practice and input from others.
To submit a letter to the editor, email dailypilotlatimescom. Please include your full name, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address. This information is seen only by the editors and is not used for any commercial purpose. Letters that do not contain full contact information cannot be published, and we generally will not publish more than one letter from a single person within any 30-day period. Letters become the property of Times Community News and may be republished in any format. They typically run 500 words or less and may be edited for content, space, accuracy and style. Please provide links for information that cannot be easily verified from news stories. Please avoid name calling and personal attacks. You will be contacted if your letter is a candidate for publication. Letters become the property of Times Community News and may be republished in any format.
The links below are to additional Register articles about writing letters to the editor.