With campaign season upon us we thought it would be good to pull out from the archive John White's (former staff journalist for The Boston Globe) excellent video about effective writing, specifically letters to the editor. This video was originally a joint project of the SCDC & The Rochester Democratic Committee. It was called On How To Write An Effective Letter To The Editor. The Farmington Dems choose to film it so it could be shared and reshaped for future efforts.
Writing Good Letters to the Editor
Letters do make a difference. Regardless of whether they get printed or not, the paper takes note and keeps score. The paper editors will change their minds on issues if they get enough public comment on it.
Brevity of the letter is the main rule, but having a format will help make your point and keep it short. It should be a conversation between you and the reader. You are trying to convince them to support your position. Don't be threatening or nasty. Be direct and supportive, but firm in your position.
Simple format for a well constructed letter:
State Your Position. Be clear. State it in the positive, not define ti as the other side does. Don't ever mention the other side's point at all. Just talk about your point.
Explain Your Position. Set out your reasons for supporting your point of view. State them clearly from your point of view. Make it as personal as you can.
Support Your Position. Again, don't repeat the other side's argument, just support your own with as much evidence as you have. Don't be argumentative with the other side, just provide solid evidence to support your points. Verify your facts. The editor will verify, so don't get caught in a lie or misstatement. If you can't verify, leave it out. Let the other side lie.
Repeat Your Position. State the position again, with a summary of your strongest argument and supporting evidence. You want to end on a positive note with a powerful statement.
You're Done! Send it off. Email is best, if possible, since no typing will be needed to transfer your words to the paper. Avoid handwritten letters if at all possible. At least use a typewriter if you can't email the letter.