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Shayota's 10 Tips on Voiceing Your Concern
By Huda Metti :: Tuesday, September 16, 2008 :: 102128 Views :: Article Rating :: Government & Society, Opinion and Editorials

California, USA –  “We should be more active,” says Jonathan Shayota.  “We need to knock on doors, get petitions signed, lobby our government, and be more involved in voicing our issues.”  Shayota’s passion is contagious.  A group of college students nod in passionate agreement with what he is saying.  “If we don’t voice our opposition, then remaining silent means you agree with them,” Shayota adds.

The political science major is active in local California politics and is helping other Chaldeans learn how to take a stand.   His fervent effort to protect marriage between one man and one woman won over his local parish into helping to get signatures signed by committed voters to help defeat the California gay marriage court intervention.  “Most tech savvy people don’t bother with the paper any longer.  They use the internet,” Shayota says. “However, papers still offer Chaldeans an opportunity to voice their concern and most professional publications have invested heavily in their online presence as well.  You are still going to have to write to the editors to set the record straight and if they refuse to listen, then share your feelings with their advertisers.”   

Shayota shares his ten tips on how to write a letter and ensure it has the best chance of being published.  Included in Shayota’s example is a submission by Rafah Odish of Farmington Hills, Michigan.  “Odish writes about her support for Congressman Knollenberg and his active involvement in helping Chaldeans. Her masterful piece found its way into the local paper in her city showcasing the gratitude of the Chaldean community and the good work of congressman Knollenberg.  This is a wonderful example of how to get your piece printed.”

Odish writes:

“Keep Knollenberg

The Iraqi Christian community throughout the United States has come together in support of our friends and relatives still living in Iraq.

Iraq's religious minorities are in trouble and their homeland is unsafe. As a community, we have taken our cause to Congress, and there is no one more receptive than our very own congressman, Joe Knollenberg.

Through his career, Joe Knollenberg has always been there for the Chaldean community. But when times got tough and we really needed people to step up and defend Iraq's religious minorities there was no one more willing than Joe. In fact, Congressman Knollenberg recently helped secure $10 million in funding to aid religious minorities in Iraq.

Joe has stood with the Chaldean community during the good times and the not so good times. That is what we need in a member of Congress and that is why Congressman Knollenberg should be re-elected in November.”

Shayota says, if you want to get published keep it short, keep it focused and keep it within the bounds of good taste.

The bigger the circulation of the publication, the more competition you face in having your letter selected. The editor may have hundreds of choices each.  Unlike the new media of the Internet, old media still has to contend with space and printing costs.  So to make sure your letter is compelling enough for the editor be sure to follow Shayota’s tips:

1. Include your contact information:
Put your full first and last name, address, phone and/or fax numbers (day and evening) and your e-mail address at the top of the letter. Most publications will want to call the writer to confirm authenticity: (i.e. that you are using your correct name -- not a phony name -- and that you did in fact write the letter).

2. Identify the article you are referring to:
If you are referring to a previously published letter, a news story or column, identify it by its headline and the date it was published (Re: Chaldeans are against gay marriage, Aug. 17). This enables the editor to quickly check the original item to verify any references you have made to it (i.e. quotes, statistics, etc.).

3. Get to the point.
You don't need a long, rambling introduction to your subject. Just focus on one or two key points that you want to make.

4. Keep it short.
Write short, punchy sentences, grouped in two or three paragraphs.

5. Be witty.
Let your sense of humor and irony shine through. You can even be a little wicked, as long as you don't cross the line of good taste.

6. Avoid clichés and weak puns.

7. If you are responding to a columnist's views (or any other opinion piece), don't launch a personal attack on the columnist -- attack his/her views. Offer a countervailing opinion. Try to advance the debate so that other readers might join in the discussion in subsequent letters.

8.  Add a personal twist.
If you have read a news story or feature article that relates to something you've experienced, respond by putting your own personal twist on the subject.

9.  Keep it unique.
Don't send copies of your letter to a whole host of publications. Make it an original to the publication. If you don't get a confirmation call within a week, then try submitting it elsewhere.

10. Do more than just write.
If the editor goes too far in what or how something is covered, a letter may not be enough.  Consider writing to the owners, advertisers, their competitors, or become their competitors.