Shape the Media- Write a letter to the Editor

In this assignment, we want you to take an active role in responding to and shaping the media.

Pick a Topic: Decide on a current political issue in the news that you care about and that relates to this class. Anything you care about – state budge, health care, war in Afghanistan, environment, etc.

Read the newspaper and/or pay attention to the news for a few days to figure out what is current and important. Try the San Jose Mercury News (online), New York Times, or watch The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

What’s your message: Figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it, and draft a letterr to the editor of the newspaper. It often helps to respond to a specific article that has been written and to reference this article in your letter. Your letter should be short and to the point. See other letters to the editor for examples. In most cases, 200 words is the maximum length – sometimes as few as 125 words.

Once your first draft is finished, show it to someone else and have them provide written edits. Then re-write.

Make copies of your original, the draft with your friend ‘s comments, and your final draft.

Send it: Send your final draft to the newspaper. The easiest way to submit a letter is to send it via email to the letters to the editor section (look up the correct email address in the newspaper). When submitting your letter, you MUST include your name, phone number, (email address if submitted on line) and street address. The paper will want to contact you if they are going to publish your letter. CC a copy of your email to yourself so you can verify that you sent the letter when submitting the assignment.

Reflect: Write a 250 word essay commenting on what you learned from doing this exercise.

Turn in: 1. Form on page 3 of this this document 2. The 2 drafts of the letter you wrote, with corrections. Provide the name, phone and email address of the person who did your corrections. 3. Your short essay 4. The FINAL draft of your letter- under 200 words- with proof that you sent it.

EXTRA CREDIT: 10 points bonus for getting your letter published! Bring a copy of your published letter in as verification.

HOW TO WRITE A GOOD LETTER TO THE EDITOR (Borrowed from the website– Adapted from Salzman’s “Making the News” and SPIN Project Materials) What is a Letter to the Editor? • Letters to the editor (LTE’s) most often discuss a recent event/issue covered by a publication, radio station, or TV program. • They are your chance to “sound-off” to your community about issues in the news. They are widely read—so make them an important part of your media strategy. Elements / Hints • It is much easier to publish a letter to the editor than it is to place an op-ed. • Your letter has the best chance of being published if it is a reaction to a story in the paper. • Respond as quickly as you can. • Read the letters page—you will learn how to develop an effective letter-writing style, and you will see if someone has already responded with your idea. • Keep it short and concise—150-200 words. The paper will take the liberty to shorten your letter to suit its format; the more it has to cut, the less control you have of what gets printed. • Lead with your most important information. • Focus on one main point and make a compelling case.
• Write in short paragraphs, with no more than three sentences per paragraph. • Don’t write too often. Once every three months is about as often as you should write. • Avoid personal attacks. • Put your full name, address and phone number at the top of the page and sign the letter at the bottom. You must include a phone number for verification purposes. • Follow up to see if the letter was received.