FoE Cymru LETTER-WRITING SCHEME

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Sending letters to THE media

Here are some tips about sending letters to (local, national or international) newspapers and other news media:

  • Most media prefer to receive letters by email, either using an ordinary email address or an on-line form. For editors, copying and pasting text from an email is quicker and more accurate than re-keying a hard-copy letter.
  • Send the letter as plain text in the body of the email, not as an attachment and not using HTML. Media don't like attachments because they can contain viruses.
  • Most media prefer letters to be 350 words or shorter. If you keep to that limit, your letters are more likely to be published and less likely to be spoiled by clumsy editing. Some newspapers only publish very short letters so have a look at their letters page to see the kind of thing they will publish.
  • Mark the letter clearly as 'LETTER FOR PUBLICATION' in the subject of the email and perhaps also at the top of the text.
  • Give a title for your letter.
  • Give your name, phone number, email address and postal address. Most newspapers will not publish letters without that information but if the topic is 'sensitive', they may be willing to publish the letter with "Name and address supplied" at the bottom.
  • If you are responding to something that has already been published, try to do it reasonably soon, ideally within a week, but you do not need to do it in a great rush. Most weekly newspapers will wait for two weeks or even three before publishing replies to previous letters. Probably, they are aware that it takes time to compose a reply and not everyone uses email.
  • Avoid any kind of personal abuse or smear remarks. If the opposition are saying foolish things, this should become clear from the force of your arguments.
  • Try to avoid mere expressions of opinion. Back up your arguments with facts, with logic and with references to sources that have 'authority'.
  • Try to include interesting new information that would not be generally known by readers.

Here is a framework for a letter

LETTER FOR PUBLICATION

Dear Editor,

[TITLE OF LETTER]

[Text of letter]

Sincerely,

[Your name]

[Your full contact details: postal address, email address, phone number, website (if any)]


Last updated: 2010-01-08