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Introduction

The primary way in which you will be involved with the print media is through Letters to the Editor (LTEs). This book will help you submit the best LTE possible. Although some of these letters may be printed verbatim, they are not intended to be used as is, but to be used primarily as a guide. Edit as you see fit and replace text with current information and quotes from your local events.

Never overlook the possibility that the newspaper might let you write a full article. I was able to write my first one simply by calling the editorial page editor of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram and pointing out that I could not effectively respond to a recent 1,200-word pro-abortion article with just a 200-word LTE. He said that if I submitted a piece with 1,200 words, he would consider it. I did, and they published it without changing a comma! Just remember that whether you submit a full article or a LTE, the basic rules are about the same.

  1. Learn what the newspaper's guidelines are and stay within them. If their rules are that LTEs aren't published if they are longer than 200 words, and you send in one that's 300 words long, you're only giving them justification for rejecting or excessively editing your work. The same thing is true for full articles. If they allow 1,500 words and you send in one that's 2,000 words, you're asking for trouble.
  2. Be certain to use correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, and word usage. This is crucial in our efforts to repair the image we have with the public. Newspapers know how important this is and they take full advantage of it. Notice how often you see the pro-life position espoused in a rambling, incoherent, poorly written letter to the editor. Then notice how seldom you see that in a pro-abortion letter. That doesn't happen by accident or because our opponents are better writers. It happens because the newspapers correct bad pro-abortion letters, and publish our bad ones errors and all. Remember, those who publish newspapers have their own abortion agenda, and they fully realize that it is helped by printing poorly written pro-life letters. Some good tools to have are a good dictionary, a thesaurus, a spelling checker, and a grammar checker. If you have a computer, there are programs that perform these functions.
  3. When responding to a pro-abortion article or LTE, list the points it made on a sheet of paper and make sure you address each one step-by-step. That keeps you focused, and keeps your finished piece from "rambling." Sometimes the word limits imposed by a newspaper can really work against the pro-life side. The problem is that an abortion advocate can put more lies into a given size letter than you could possibly expose in a letter limited to the same length. Let's say a particular newspaper has a 250-word limit, and they print a pro-abortion letter containing five lies, each one of which would require at least 250 words to expose. The solution is to have five of your pro-life friends each send in a 250-word letter that exposes just one of the lies. They probably won't all get printed, but if three of them are, you effectively wind up with a 750-word letter.
  4. Be aware that getting your message to the public in a newspaper is a competitive event fought on two fronts. In order to get published, you must first compete against other articles and LTEs that were submitted. Then, once published, you have to compete for the reader's attention against the other pieces that were printed. The rule of thumb is to say all you need to say while remembering that shorter pieces are more likely to get published, and if published are far more likely to be read. Make certain that anything you submit can be read and understood by the average fifth-grader. Regrettably, that is about the reading and comprehension level of most Americans.
  5. If several people from your organization are going to respond at the same time, don't let everyone use the same typewriter and stationery, and certainly don't copy each other's writing style or word usage.
  6. If you write a LTE or article that is timely or of crucial importance, consider taking it to the newspaper in person.
  7. Anytime a LTE or article you submit is not published, find out why. And don't be shy about going up the chain of command until you get a reasonable answer.
  8. Every pro-life organization should have no more than one person authorized to submit LTEs or articles on its behalf.
  9. Anticipate upcoming events and have responses ready for every possibility. It makes no sense whatsoever to scramble around in a panic trying to respond to a big Supreme Court decision that you knew beforehand was coming! Anytime something is on the horizon that will create an opportunity for a LTE, prepare a response for all the possibilities, and then after the event all you have to do is fill in the details.
  10. Start a public relations and information campaign with the local press. Take personal responsibility for cultivating a better relationship with them. Become known. Personally meet as many of the editorial staff of local newspapers as you can. Visit with them from time to time--even when nothing is going on--just to maintain your lines of communication. Always compliment (verbally and followed up in writing) a newspaper reporter who has given the pro-life position or its people a fair shake. Don't let them hear from you only when you are complaining. Look for excuses to call them when you have absolutely no pro-life motive. However, don't be a pest. And when you do call, don't ramble on unless they make it obvious that they want to talk. (Be sure to keep a log of all contacts between you and them, including a summary of what was said, the date, and who initiated the contact.)

You should also create a dossier on all local press people and local pro-aborts who get LTEs published. This file should include: personal and family data; copies of anything they've written or said about abortion or a related subject; organizations to which they or their immediate family members belong (such as political parties or organizations, NOW, NARAL, ACLU, Planned Parenthood, etc.); and their personal experience with abortion, or a related subject such as adoption, the death of a child, etc. Also do some behind-the-scenes research on local press people to find areas of common interest with you or other members of your staff. If you find that there are some, have the person in your organization with the common interest be the one to deal with that press person.

If someone you've worked with in the local media gets an award, has a kid graduate from school, or wins the local 10K run, acknowledge it. Watch for personal and family events in their lives and respond accordingly. For example: a death in the family, a graduation, they (or a family member) receive some kind of award, their kid scores the winning touchdown, they get a promotion, somebody gets married, etc.

Note: These media "investigation and observation" jobs are perfect for volunteers. Assign them particular press people for whom they are responsible. Their duty is to create and maintain files on those people. Assign other volunteers the job of scanning each issue of a particular newspaper for abortion-related stories, columns, or LTEs. Keep everything! You never know when it will come in handy. Also, don't be discouraged if your press file seems to be seldom, if ever, used. One day it will be. And when that time comes, the file will prove to have been worth all the effort it took to assemble.

Copyright Information

Life Dynamics Incorporated is the lawful copyright holder of this workbook. Any individual and/or organization commonly known as "pro-life" or "anti-abortion" is hereby granted permission to use the material contained within this workbook in any way they feel will benefit the "pro-life" or "anti-abortion" effort. Additionally, there is no requirement that attribution be given. This permission includes (but is not limited to) direct quotes, verbatim transcripts, duplications, and/or photocopies. The only limit to this copyright permission as that the workbook may not be copied in its entirety, resulting in the creation of another workbook. (Additional workbooks may be ordered from the address below at $20 per copy, including postage.) Anyone not fitting the above description of "pro-life" or "anti-abortion" who is found to be reproducing (either in part or whole) any material contained within this workbook--without first obtaining written permission to do so--will be fully prosecuted under United States copyright laws.


Mark Crutcher, President
Life Dynamics Incorporated
Post Office Box 2226
Denton, Texas 76202
(817) 380-8800
(817) 380-8700 fax

 

 

Priests for Life
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