DON'T forget to write. We're waiting to hear from you.
Letters to the editor are among The Blade's best-read features. The letters column provides a barometer of Toledoans' thinking and a forum for exchanging views on vital community issues. At a time when it's easier than ever before to expose ourselves only to opinions we agree with, the letters column allows people to communicate who otherwise might not have much contact.
In 2010 and beyond, The Blade wants to generate and publish more of your letters. The more people who join our conversation, the better able these pages will be to moderate a lively public debate.
We don't impose a lot of rules on letter writers. To make the letters column as inclusive and useful as we can, we limit writers to one published letter a month and edit all letters for space, clarity, and accuracy. We don't edit letters for content, other than obvious violations such as libel. We like to get and print letters that disagree with our editorial positions, because that keeps us honest.
Here are a few suggestions that will enhance your prospects of getting your letter published:
Be brief. Take the space you need to say what you want to say - then stop. Don't spill your guts. All other things being equal, a shorter letter is more likely to be printed, less likely to be trimmed for length, and more likely to be read.
Be concise. Pick one issue you want to address, decide what you want to say about it, and make your main point immediately. Resist the temptation to address all the world's evils in a single letter.
Be civil. Name-calling is no substitute for rational argument. The power of ideas is far more persuasive than personal insults.
Be topical. Letters on timely matters of general interest are more likely to attract other readers than are vague screeds laden with exclamation points and capital letters, and thus more likely to be published.
Be original. A dozen letters making the same point won't all be published.
Be yourself. We want to hear your ideas in your own words. Don't waste space on clichs such as "Let me see if I have this straight" or "Am I the only one who thinks that " Don't expect to make your case simply by quoting the Bible or any other text. If you cite statistics, identify their source.
Be direct. We don't publish anonymous letters, or those signed with pen names. If your ideas and opinions aren't important enough to you to put your name behind them, they won't be of much value to anyone else, either.
Similarly, if you want your letter published in The Blade, then write it for The Blade. That means no form letters, no letters that are the synthetic products of organized writing campaigns, no letters addressed to third parties, and no copies of letters sent to other publications. Talk directly to us, and to our readers.
We want to publish more letters, but we can't print every letter we receive. Still, we appreciate all writers who take the time to offer their ideas. A concise, well-written letter that makes its point forcefully and immediately, and develops a thoughtful argument, is a gem we're glad to get and share with our readers.
What's on your mind? The box on the opposite page tells you how to contact us. Let us, and your fellow Toledoans, hear from you.
Let me also repeat the request I made in last week's column. Write and tell me and other newcomers to Toledo what we need to know about this area and its people. You can send your remarks to the same places we take letters, or e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I've gotten some intriguing responses already. I'll print the best of your thoughts on these pages soon. If you'd like your comments to be considered for publication, please include your full home address and daytime phone number for verification.
David Kushma is editor of The Blade.
Contact him at: email@example.com