Write Right

Dear HonestReporting Subscriber,

HonestReporting’s successes over the past few years could not have been achieved without the tremendous efforts of you – our subscribers.

Using HonestReporting’s media critiques and communiques, you have sent letters, e-mails, faxes and phone calls to a huge number of media outlets, challenging inaccuracies and bias, and keeping editors and journalists on their toes.

We are often asked, however, why we do not supply our readers with ‘sample’ e-mails to send to the media en masse. This question is ably answered by Deborah Howell, the Washington Post’s new ombudsman, who deals with this issue in a recent column:

David Hoffman, assistant managing editor for foreign news, gets a lot of e-mail about Middle East coverage and looks at it all. “The most effective . . . feedback we get is from readers who offer their own views. We also appreciate input from readers about what we’ve actually published. Many campaigns fail on both counts — the letters are mass produced and fail to account for our coverage, past and present. If a reader feels strongly about something, an original letter has far more value than a rubber-stamped one.”

Ms. Howell warns that:

“heavy amounts of e-mail do not equal impact.”

This is why HonestReporting encourages you to take the time and effort to write your own letters, using, of course, the information and materials that you can find in our communiques and throughout the HonestReporting website, including valuable tips on how to write a good letter. A wealth of information is also available from credible news sources and organizations, including many listed on HonestReporting’s Links page.

While it may sound obvious, please remember to read the newspaper article thoroughly before dispatching a letter – an editor can tell the difference between someone who has sent an e-mail before getting past the headline and someone who has written a carefully considered and formulated response.

Remember that while you may disagree strongly with the views expressed in an article, journalists are unlikely to take you seriously if you are abusive or unable to state your argument in a rational manner. Hurling insults at journalists or sending incoherent ramblings will most likely find your e-mail consigned to the Deleted Items folder.

An effective e-mail campaign can, however, produce the desired results, leading to corrections, retractions and sometimes even the odd apology.

HonestReporting’s readers can be justly proud of the impact that you have made on the media’s coverage of the Mideast. We believe in educating our readership about the issues so that they are able to argue their case effectively without resorting to impersonal mass e-mail campaigns.

Please continue to write to the media and send us copies of your letters – we love to see what you are writing!


HonestReporting recently profiled the remarkable work of Boston University history professor Richard Landes and his Second Draft project.

Many of you viewed important videos including Pallywood: ‘According to Palestinian Sources…’ and selected raw footage questioning the Mohammed al-Dura affair. We did, however, receive feedback that some of the links had been moved.

We are now pleased to announce that The Second Draft website is completely up and running and loaded with excellent materials “exploring some of the problems and issues that plague modern journalism.” HonestReporting strongly recommends a return visit to this superb site.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.



Comments are closed.