Monday, January 15, 2007

Dear Editor

National Post letters editor Paul Russell has provided some helpful tips for anyone who has ever written a letter to the editor and then wondered why it was rejected.

The suggestions are meant for Post readers but many can apply to any newspaper. I used to write dozens of letters a month before starting my blog. It was my major way to vent my frustration whenever I read the paper. Now, of course, I am my own publisher which has its pitfalls. I have no editor which means I am responsible for my own spelling, grammar and lawsuits (just kidding on the last one - I hope!).

Anyway, some of Paul's tips are quite witty :


"Eschew obfuscation - Which is to say you should keep the language of the letter as simple and unpretentious as possible."


(I know of a certain left-leaning blogger who might take this one to heart.)




"Avoid clichés like the plague - It goes without saying that you have to think outside the box. In a nutshell, it's the kiss of death to rely on tried and true expressions. They are so yesterday. Honestly."


One of my letters published by the Post had the last line removed. I complained to Mr. Russell and he explained that it was because of the line being a cliché. Oh well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right Paul?



Actually, Paul and I have traded many emails. If a busy editor bothers to give you the time of day (was that a cliché?) to help improve your writing skills, accept that assistance with all the humility and gratitude you can muster. You will be receiving a valuable lesson.

And perhaps one day you'll even see your letter in the National Post.

* * * *

Another appreciative post at Just Between Us Girls.


Tuesday Update: Well you have to give the National Post credit for taking a bit of good-natured ribbing in today's Letters column ("Our Mistakes"):

Re: How To Write A Letter To The Editor, Paul Russell; Keeping Baby Close, But Not To Close, letter, both Jan. 15.

Now that I know how to write a letter to the editor, I really hope this one makes it. In the above-noted article I learned that "15 tips" is singular (Why else would it state "here's 15 tips'' instead of "here are" ? ?) and that babies do not make good baseball pitchers. (Why else would it say that babies are not "to close"?) I hope this is the kind of letter you're looking for.



I could say something here about eating crow, but I guess that would be considered somewhat of a cliché, right Paul? ;)

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Those would be useful recommendations for most reporters, editors and publishers to follow....never mind the ordinary Jo/Joe with something to get off her/his chest!

Cheers! :)

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Actually, the Post had some terrific advice for the Star today too!

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see the Post going after the Star on an Integrity in Journalism issue!
I agree completely with what they say and that is just typical and indicative of the status quo for journalistic standards.
Now if the Post would be as honest about their own work vis a vis political issues!

liberal supporter said...

I never get letters published.

And I use my best crayons too.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

L.S. - lol! Maybe you've got wax stuck in your modem.

Anonymous said...

Liberal Supporter....do you have a 64 box set or 8??? Maybe that's the problem, not enough shade variance. :-)

Anon #83

Gabby in QC said...

" "Eschew obfuscation ... "

(I know of a certain left-leaning blogger who might take this one to heart.) "

Who? Who? Come clean, Joanne - we want names ...

Seriously, if it's the same one I'm thinking of, I often wonder why some people bother to have a blog, if one has to be like the Enigma Code breakers to decipher their posts.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Oh, Gabby you are clever. I so agree. You give your guess first - Initials only.

glenda said...

Great minds think ....... never mind.
Yours is better btw.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Great minds think ....... never mind.

Ha! Very good, Glenda. I didn't pick up the cliché right away. Obviously I still have a lot to learn.

Hey, I'll give you a link. Paul deserves the publicity. He's a good guy. (And I know for a fact that he's read this post). ;)

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I once got a letter to the editor published. It was over 20 years ago, though. I guess I better keep up with the times. Great post, Joanne.

Gabby in QC said...

"You give your guess first - Initials only."

It would be a dead giveaway if I were to give the person's initials. Let's just say that this person doesn't need to change avatars frequently, unlike another "blogger" I've seen ... er ... read ... er ... left because of all the insults & condescending attitude thrown at whoever dares disagree.

liberal supporter said...

I have the 62 set (broke a couple). I think the problem is too many colours in one letter. Maybe it's like using too many fonts.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Gabby - Oh, boy. Now I'm the one trying to figure out the quiz. This is fun. I think I know who you're referring to with the frequent avatar changing. Is it someone who comments here, but only once in a while?

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Brian, thanks for your kind comments. Give the letter writing another shot. It's great therapy.

L.S. - I think the problem is too many colours in one letter.

Yes, Paul Russell neglected to mention that tip. Monochromatic is best. Less eye stress.

Anonymous said...

Everytime I write an angry letter it is rejected. I promise that I don't swear.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Everytime I write an angry letter it is rejected

We need to have a letter-writing class. Give us an example. Maybe we can help. :)

Gabby in QC said...

Joanne, the one I was thinking of has never posted here, to my knowledge.

The one I think you were referring to when you said "I know of a certain left-leaning blogger who might take this one to heart" appears here on a regular basis, usually just to sneer and make snide remarks. However, you never let the person get the better of you, always defending your point with good humour.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

the one I was thinking of has never posted here, to my knowledge.

Now you've got me stumped Gabby.


The one I think you were referring to when you said "I know of a certain left-leaning blogger who might take this one to heart" appears here on a regular basis

You've got the right person, but we have agreed to stop commenting on each other's blogs. (Yipee!)