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Letters To Editor

What is it?
Letters to the editor are short opinion pieces, usually less than 300 words, printed in newspapers and magazines. They can be designed to educate the community about your topic of interest, publicize your cause, challenge an existing viewpoint, gain the attention of politicians and policy makers, and spark action.

Advantages:

  • Low cost/free to publish
  • Large readership
  • Informal

Disadvantages:

  • Competition with other authors, acceptance may be difficult
  • Submissions typically selected based on relevance to current events
  • Usually, one author is restricted to publishing no more than once every two weeks

How to write a Letter to the Editor
Adapted from “How to Write a Letter to the Editor” published by the National Post

  • Keep submissions to 200-300 words
  • Start your letter with a catchy phrase to get people’s attention
  • Take a stance, do not present both sides without drawing a conclusion
  • Write simply and plainly as much as possible
  • Present a single point rather than a complex argument
  • Use humour, emotion, and personal experience to appeal to readers
  • Be topical and current – editors look for stories and issues currently on the minds of readers
  • Paste the letter directly into your e-mail, do not send as an attachment
  • Provide your full name, phone number and address in the letter so that editors can contact you for verification, or to seek your approval for editing changes
  • Do not send your letter to numerous media outlets - pick one and stick with it
  • Be sure to mention that you are a medical student and not a faculty member or physician associated with a particular institution

If you are trying to reach a medical audience, consider publishing an opinion piece or commentary in a medical journal. Each journal tends to have different submission guidelines for op-ed articles. Make sure you check out their publication instructions before you begin drafting your article.


Sample Letter to the Editor
http://www.schizophrenia.ca/docs/SampleLetterToEditor.pdf


Where to Publish
The following are just a few ideas of where to submit your letter. There are many more that are not mentioned here, so look around to find a publication that best suits your needs.

National Media:
1) Globe and Mail
Email: [email protected]
Fax: 416-585-5085

2) National Post
http://www.nationalpost.com/contact/letters/index.html?name=Letters

Local media:
1) The Toronto Star
Email: [email protected]
Fax: 416-869-4322

2) The Vancouver Sun
[email protected]
Fax: 604-605-2188

3) Le journal de Montréal
http://www.journaldemontreal.com/contactez-nous

4) The Gazette
Email: [email protected]
Fax: 514-987-2639


Publications with a medical audience:
1) The Canadian Association Medical Journal (CMAJ) Salon or Commentaries section: http://www.cmaj.ca/site/authors/preparing.xhtml

2) Canadian Family Physician Commentaries section:
http://www.cfp.ca/site/misc/cfp_authors.xhtml

3) Canadian Journal of Public Health:
http://journal.cpha.ca/index.php/cjph/about/submissions#authorGuidelines


References:
http://www.acp-cpa.ca/lettertoeditortips.htm

http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=3eafdfc5-1af1-430b-8bb4-3b1dc3f8abc0&p=1

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/23/opinion/23READ.html?ex=1141189200&en=1fd8b7f8078f4183&ei

http://news.ubc.ca/services-for-ubc/writing-an-effective-opinion-editorial-piece-or-letter-to-the-editor/

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