[Marxism] Don’t forget to write

Chris Brady cdbrady at sbcglobal.net
Sun Feb 1 05:40:03 MST 2004

This forum is great and I’m happy that there are more people joining
in.  Nonetheless, our project remains to join out.  Writing and reading
on this list should be to the purpose of proselytization.

One way we can transpose our work here to a broader audience there, with
hopes of activation, is by writing “Letters to the Editor” in
newspapers, magazines, and journals.  I will focus here on the more
popular press.  I think it is politically more effective to do so, but
wherever you feel compelled you should express your socialist thinking.

While it's tempting to aim at The New York Times, remember that there
are many other major newspapers to consider.  The New York Times
receives more letters daily than any other paper in the US, so
competition is fierce.  Plus, I know a Red in Brooklyn who’s never got a
letter to the Times published and he’s sent stacks.  It's better to be
published in another excellent paper than to be not published in The New
York Times.

On the other hand, student and local newspapers are actually hungry for
copy.  I have had a sheaf of letters published in college and local
papers.  Sometimes I’ve run into problems with subject matter too
radical or “controversial”, but persistence usually pays off.  I have
also gotten into back-and-forth debates with antagonistic writers.  That
can be quite positive by drawing attention to the topic.

An elderly friend of mine writes so often to his town paper that he had
to strike a deal.  The paper promised to print a letter from him every
other week.  Now he goes for quality.  He usually defends Cuba or warns
of the environmental crisis.

I was not part of that deal so the paper would print my letters, which
were more sporadic, despite the fact that they were occasionally on the
same topic as his—of course from a different angle.  It made me think
that if we were organized we could make sure to keep certain topics
before the public eye.  (Rightwing&/orXn activists have organized
letters-to-the-editor campaigns.  Remember that bogus “letter from a
soldier in Iraq” that appeared in several papers last Spring?)

Always contact the paper to ascertain its publication policy.  Find out
the maximum number of words your letter should have, the format, and how
best to submit (fax, e-mail or hard copy by mail, etc.).  Most papers
now actually prefer emailed letters.  It’s easier to cut-and-paste an
email into their pagemaker program than retyping the whole darn thing.
Most papers have a website.  Access the website and you’ll probably find
instructions and an email address—if not a click opening.

You know what?  It doesn’t take that much time.

If you’re fairly knowledgeable on certain issues, you could try for an
Op-Ed piece.  These appear in the Commentary or Opinion pages and are
usually around 600-750 words.  They must be on a single topic, and you
should know what you’re talking about.  It’s an argument meant to
convince, but it should be comprehendible.

Use simple, short sentences. Avoid fancy words, jargon and acronyms.
Make your paragraphs short; make sure they are about three sentences

It is a good idea to prepare in advance.  We know that certain topics
are going to come up in the news.  Newspapers want their Opinion pieces
to be timely.  Research and be ready to move your opinion piece the
moment big news happens.

Keep it simple and clear. Boil your argument down to three major points.
Facts and figures make your point but anecdote makes it human, and

Close conclusively. A short, powerful last paragraph should drive your
point home.  Remember the point: many people out there only get the same
old same old.  They need access to a different point of view to get any
perspective on things at all.  If we don't do it, who will?

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