Things Your Media Watchdog Wants You to Know About Writing Letters to the Editor (Part 2)

Sign your name.

Your real name.  And include your contact info (more on that point to come).

Published letters are on the record, so they carry more weight. When you write a letter, you are the newspaper’s source of info and/or commentary. So papers make a point of verifying letters to the editor before publishing them.

Some readers value their privacy, or don’t want to be seen publicly commenting on certain topics, and that’s understandable. But is there anything you can do if you still want to express yourself?

Just indicate that the letter isn’t for publishing.

What editors won’t do is publish letters anonymously or under false names. And for good reason. Anonymous sources are a somewhat necessary evil that shouldn’t become part of the letters page. Sock puppetry’s another a no-no. While its’ accepted that talkbacks can be rugby scrum of ongoing conversation, the letters forum has to remain credibility.

Since that requires some transparency on your part, newspapers routinely ask for contact info — usually your email address and a daytime telephone number. All they want to do is verify that you are who you say you are, and that you really expressed the wonderful thoughts they’re interested in publishing.

When you let the papers do their due diligence, they’ll give you the soapbox.

See also Part 1 in this series.