Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform
committed to preventing tragedy that arises from illicit drug use
|Writing Letters to the Editor|
Successful letter writing
also in pdf here
Here are some good techniques for writing letters to the editor to support the drug law reform cause.
Letter writing is the one thing that any one of us can do on our own without the need to work through a group. No committees are necessary. Just do it!
Not All Letters are Published
Don't be discouraged if your letter isn't published. The editor may have received more responses on that issue than he feels he can handle.
The first thing to remember is that not all letters received can be published in a typical editorial section. They are likely to publish either because they:
Most people who write letters to the editor would probably like the satisfaction of seeing their letter published. However, it is also apparent that the media can be influenced by letters they do not publish. A simple letter to someone in the media may find its way into a future story even though it was not published in the letters column.
Keep it Short
Short, concise letters are always more likely to be published than long, meandering ones; try to keep them under 250 words. The longer letters are also more likely to be edited. It is better that you do your own editing.
Ever notice how you read letters to the editor in the paper? Most people read the shorter letters first and then perhaps later read the longer ones. Thus your shorter letter has a better chance of being read.
What To Write
Single-issue or special-interest groups, such as the Families and Friends for Drug Law Reform have but one agenda but within that heading can select from a range of subject sub groups. Replying to editorials by agreeing or disagreeing is very effective.
Try to respond within two or three days of the article's publication. Pick an issue of particular importance to you. Don't be afraid to let some passion show through.
Here are some stylistic considerations:
Readers respect the opinions of people with special knowledge or expertise. Use expert testimony to bolster your case ("Dr Alex Wodak expresses the view that we are now witnessing the beginning of the end of prohibition").
EXAMPLE OF LETTER TO THE EDITOR - SENT BY EMAIL & PUBLISHED IN DAILY TELEGRAPH OF 24 FEB 1997
NSW Police Commissioner Ryan's suggestion for changes to drug laws as a breath of fresh air. Charged with the responsibility of cleaning up the corruption in the NSW police force, he has quickly realised a major cause of the problem - our prohibition drug laws.
Prohibition has meant that criminals control the distribution of illegal drugs, making enormous tax free profits but having little regard to the quality or purity of the drugs. It is the profit in illegal drugs that drives the crime rate.
Mr Ryan's responsibility is only for the police force but he cannot help but see the tragedy and the misery that flows from our present prohibition drug laws.
In NSW more than 230 people die each year from illicit drugs. Causing suffering for families and loved ones.
Mr Ryan's most difficult task will be to persuade his political masters to change the laws. Those of us who want an end to this tragedy and suffering should give him all the encouragement we can.