A letter to the press is of a rather special variety. Though the letter is addressed to the editor of the paper, the writer is not so much interested in only the editor reading it, but also all the thousands of people who read the particular paper or magazine. Letter to the press can be very powerful at a local and national (even international) level. Several important decision (such as building a bridge, developing a park) have been taken because of correspondence in the local newspapers. Some important piece of legislation at national level (such as banning child labour) have also been initiated through letters to newspapers. Letters to the press have become effective means to bring about a change in a democratic set up.
The writer of the letter has to have two people in mind when he is writing to the press. First of all, he has to satisfy the editor, because if the editor does not like the letter he will not publish it. The editor normally receives hundreds of letter everyday, so he can be very selective in what he publishes. Secondly, the writer of the letter must have his eye on the general reader, whom he hopes to be influenced by the letter. If it is to affect the general reader favorably, it must be clear, accurate, and concise.
Points to note when writing letter to the press.
- The date and the addresses are written as in the business letter.
- The letter begins with 'Sir', and not with 'Dear Sir,'.
- The first word of the first paragraph is indented from the margin, as are all the subsequent paragraphs.
- The letter ends with the words 'Yours faithfully; - it may also end with 'Yours etc;, (note the full-stop and commas)
- There is no full-stop after the signature.
- The tone of the letter is mild and clam; the language is clear and concise leading the reader to the author's point of view.
Letters meant to be published in paper should always be addressed to the Editor. If the writer does not wish his name to be published, he can sign his letter with nom de plume (such as 'Reformer', 'Observer' and 'One who knows'). However, he must give his name and address (in the covering letter) to the Editor; for, no anonymous letter is given any credibility.
Letters to the Editors, normally express the writer's opinion; and therefore, require much more personal and forceful approach than just giving an argument. You must express your strong emotions of annoyance, pleasure or indignation. Don't forget to keep a formal tone throughout the letter.
The following is an example of a letter to the Editor in which the write does not wish to publish his name: (Format/Layout)
Department of Psychology
Degree College, Malikpura
4th May 2009
The Times of India
Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg
I fully agree with your editorial on 'Rash Driving' (The Times of India, dated May 1). Do the driver ever give a though to the danger they cause to people by their reckless driving? What good do they get from this dangerous sport? I could think of a dozen ways of having good fun. They could play a good game of football or basketball and derive great pleasure.
Notices should be issued to all the Traffic Police Posts to take the cases of rash driving seriously and if anyone is caught he should be liable to punishment. After all, if a man murders his neighbor, he is treated as a criminal. I see no difference between a murderer and a 'rash driver' who endangers the life of the innocent people.
A Social Worker