Now that the SVPA has passed the Senate and we're waiting for it to be heard in the House in the second part of the legislative session, voices in the public are an easy and great way to make a difference and help support this legislation.
Letters to the editor are simple to do, they're excellent tools for community education, and they're a good way to draw attention to an issue (as well as to highlight people or groups around the issue, either positively or negatively).
They're also a way to get a bit of small, local celebrity and spark some interesting conversations in your community. And let's face it, it's thrilling to see yourself published in a newspaper.
Here are some tips to getting your letter in your local paper.
- If you're responding to a specific article, editorial, or previous letter, refer to it at the beginning of your letter. And the sooner you write in response to that item, the better.
- If there's a specific local connection relevant to the paper you're submitting to, mention it. Local community connections always make for a better story.
- If you have a personal anecdotes, especially for the bullying issue, tell it.
- Be sure to follow any specific guidelines the paper proscribes, e.g., maximum letter length. You can generally find the guidelines and contact information on your paper's opinion page.
- Be brief and to to the point. Shorter letters are more likely to be printed than longer ones.
- State your main point immediately, i.e., "We need laws that protect all students from bullying."
- E-mail your letter if you can. This makes it easier for the paper to publish your letter with a minimum of work, and it's more immediate.
- Tell the truth - both stating facts and telling your personal truth - and avoid personal attacks.
- Always include your name, street address, phone number, and e-mail addresses. In general, papers will not publish anonymous letters, and many will call or e-mail you to verify that you want your letter printed.