by CCJ Staff
Newspaper "letters to the editor" are usually short comments that make one simple point. They are usually a response to something that has appeared in the op ed page, an editorial, or some information that has appeared in a news story. And they usually are an attempt to hear public response or attitudes about the news or newspaper's stand. Generally, letters-to-the-editor are not the place for the public to demand a correction or complain about inaccuracies or bias.
There are several different ideas and approaches "letters to the editor" can take. Some may comment on a specific charge or allegation in a piece. Others may take issue with a policy or position in a story. While still others may simply be a reader's observations on a story.
Regardless, if you send a letter to the editor, remember most newspapers get many more letters than they run. And because space is usually at a premium in a newspaper, keep your letters short. Even the shortest may be subject to some editing for space or content.
Below a look at some actual letters that have appeared in "letters" columns.
Sample Letters to the Editor
Overheard at Home
Thursday, May 2, 2002
Richard Cohen has my wholehearted support in his campaign against public cell phone use, boom boxes on wheels and other urban auditory assaults [op-ed, April 25].
But he claims that people can talk as loudly as they want on the phone in the privacy of their own homes without bothering anyone. I wish this were true, but I, like many area residents, live in an apartment.
I have had the misery of listening to every phone call my next-door neighbors have made or received since I moved in. I try hard to be grateful that they are not big music fans and that they usually keep the TV volume at a reasonable, though still audible, level; but I still wish that I did not have to listen to every detail of their social lives while sitting in my own living room.
Jane Doe, Arlington
Immigrants' Language of Choice
Thursday, May 2, 2002
Regarding the article "Putting Government in Other Languages" [Metro, April 25]:
My parents immigrated to the United States in 1963. My father never went to high school, and my parents never had much money. The local, state or federal agencies did not provide programs or documents in any language other than English, so my parents learned the language of the country they moved to -- what a concept.
They raised my brother and me to speak two languages so that when it came time for school, we did not need English as a Second Language programs. It wasn't easy for my parents, but their hard work paid off.
Flash to today. Maryland passes a bill requiring state agencies to provide interpreters and translate government forms to "make government more accessible."
Excuse me, but why are we wasting tax dollars on translated driver's license forms for immigrants? How are they supposed to read the traffic signs?
Lucila Espinal, who was highlighted in the article, has been in this country for 14 years, and she still does not know the language. That's an affront to county residents who will be forced to fork over their tax dollars to help translate documents and provide interpreters for her.
John Doe, Sterling
A Speck in the Universe
To the Editor:
Re "Postcards From the Edge" (front-page photographs, May 1):
The pictures are simply stunning! Let us hope that a panoramic view of the universe would compel us humans to understand the scope of the world we live in and learn to overcome the petty quarrels that we so routinely absorb ourselves in.
Joe Smith, Northboro, Mass.
Driving, beer and tax
Mothers Against Drunk Driving President Millie Webb's assertion that there is a link between drunken driving and the level of tax on beer is absurd ("Rollback of federal beer tax isn't worth risk of losing lives," May 1). People will not stop drinking irresponsibly because of the tax level on beer.
Roger Jones, Petoskey