Letters and articles for publication feature very prominently in the essay writing courses of schools and colleges.
Apart from this, we are sometimes also compelled to write a letter or article for publication in a local daily newspaper whenever we feel very strongly about an issue and want to draw attention to it.
Some educational institutions run their own magazines or journals and you may have had a letter or an article published in one of such journals.
On the other hand, you may not have had anything published but you surely must have read letters and articles written by others and published in our local dailies.
You might also have written a letter or an article to the press but it never got published. You must have felt very bitter because the article may have taken you such a long time to put together.
Perhaps your letter or article was not published because it did not measure up to certain standards. You will need to compare some of the letters and articles that appear in the dailies with what you wrote.
It is important to note, however, that a letter or an article that you may have spent many hours writing and considered fit for publication may be rejected for various reasons, sometimes including censorship.
An article or letter in which you make wild, unbridled attacks and accusations of someone may be found to be baseless and unfounded. The editor may be in trouble if he allows such a piece to be published without making checks on the facts.
The editor could even be sued in such cases. For these reasons, the team of http://sismomex.com wants to update the general public on ways of writing genuine and acceptable articles, letters and also rejoinders for publication in the local newspapers.
This can also be important for students in terms of writing essays of this nature for examination purposes.
Let us, therefore, examine the features of letters and articles for publication.
GENERAL FEATURES OF LETTERS AND ARTICLES FOR PUBLICATION
- Letters for publication must be brief and direct to the point. This is important because space is very limited in newspapers and what is available is always competed for by various items including advertisements which are a major source of revenue to a newspaper. You do not pay for the space your letter takes in a newspaper. For this reason, if your letter seems to be advertising rather than drawing attention to a problem in which the general public will or should be interested, it may be rejected and thrown into the bin.
- Unlike a letter, an article is often an exhaustive discussion of an Issue of local or national concern. The issue or problem is clearly defined and objectively discussed. As a result, the writer of an article is often expected, in real-life situations, to add what is called a cover letter’ providing a full mailing address. This will enable the editor to return the article, if it is not accepted, or to communicate acceptance and consequent payment because newspapers sometimes pay for some of the articles that they publish.
- Letters begin in salutations but articles do not.
- Letters and articles must have clear headings which must reflect if not virtually summarize, their contents.
- The letter may bear the writer’s address at the top right corner as in all other letters. It must, on the other hand, show the particular paper to which it is addressed, the addressee being ‘The Editor’ at all times. The words making up the name of the paper must, usually be placed in quotation marks. E.g. ‘The Observer’, ‘The Citizen’, ‘The Teacher’, ‘The Herald’, ‘The Modern Guide’, ‘London News, etc.
- The article usually shows the name of the author immediately below the caption but the letter has the name of the writer coming under it. This is often followed by the name of the town from which he is writing or an address of some sort. It is a common feature these days for letters to the press to bear the E-mails of the writers.
Letters and articles may be directed at a particular audience but once published they are meant to be read and understood by the general public. This means that the writer must use the kind of language that will not give the letter or article a commonplace simplistic outlook or make it too specialized to be understood by the ordinary reader. Now let’s look at some steps to follow when writing articles.
Steps to follow when writing articles:
These steps are not absolutes but will lead to good results if followed closely.
- Define and elaborate on the problem or issue you want to discuss. State why you think the issue or problem is important and deserves attention.
- Explain the issue or nature of the problem pointing out its effects, merits or demerits as the case may be.
- Where you pose problems or point them out, it is necessary that you recommend or suggest what you think are workable solutions.
- Before you accuse a personality, division or firm in an article, be sure that you have and can provide ample evidence in support of your accusations. Do not just make allegations heading for libel charges.
The cover letter: This should be brief. In most school and college essays as well as examinations, the cover letter is often not required, Below is an example:
Holy Child College
P.O. Box 245
1st October 2021.
“News of the World’,
P.O. Box CTW 3011,
Dear Sir (Editor),
ARTICLE FOR PUBLICATION
I forward attached an article entitled “EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS
IN AFRICA” which I would like to be considered for publication in your paper.
I hope that it would receive favorable consideration.
Now read the following example of a letter to the press:
LETTER TO THE PRESS
P.O. Box CSK 300
1st October 2021.
Sir (Dear Sir/Dear Editor),
SALE OF FOOD IN UNHYGIENIC CONDITIONS
Permit me space to draw the attention of the general public and, in particular, the attention of the Ministries of Health and Education to a practice that I think constitutes a potential threat to our national health.
It is rather unfortunate that in many parts of the country, not excluding the cities and big towns, people continue to sell all kinds of food to school children in leaves which are obviously dirty. Not only this, many of the sellers expose the food to dust and flies without the slightest care. To add insult to injury, some of the food sellers are often dirty themselves and prone to contaminate the food they sell with their very touch.
The present high rate of dysentery and diarrhea amongst pupils in some parts of the country can be traced to eating food sold, if not prepared, in unhygienic conditions. We have come a long way to be able to realize that if our children’s health is in danger, then our national health is under very serious threat. I would, therefore, want to appeal to the authorities concerned to ban the sale of all kinds of food in leaves. Heads of various educational institutions must take a keen interest in what is sold to the students and pupils on their respective campuses and by so doing ensure that the basic rules of hygiene are meticulously obeyed.
Let us now look at the rejoinder.
The Rejoinder is a response to what someone else has either said or written. Such a response could either be positive i.e. in support of the person’s views, or negative i.e. against the person’s view, or both for and against. A Rejoinder may take the form of an article or a letter depending on how much the writer may wish to say.
There is a mistaken notion that the rejoinder always contains dissenting opinion, i.e. the writer of the rejoinder always expresses disagreement with the views of the author whose letter or article is being responded to. This is not true.
Let us suppose that Mr. Wilson’s article on the “sale of food in unhygienic conditions” is published and you feel that what he has said is true except that he has left out some very important points. If you decide to write a follow-up and in it brings out those points, you will be writing a rejoinder. It may take the form of a letter or an article depending on how much you may have to say. On the other hand, if you feel that many of the points raised by Mr. Wilson are untrue or misleading, you may want to write back and point out these flaws. In both cases, what you write will be a rejoinder.
Note that it is possible for you to partly disagree and partly agree with an author in one rejoinder as in the following example:
Post Office Box 7,
6th October 2021.
SALE OF FOOD IN UNHYGIENIC CONDITIONS-REJOINDER
I have read with great interest Mr. Wilson’s letter captioned above, which appeared in the 3rd October 2021 issue of your paper.
Much as I agree with Mr. Wilson that the sale of food in leaves should be banned as a matter of national urgency, I feel that he has failed to make any suggestions as to what could be used in place of leaves as food wrappers. I would like to suggest that firms or companies that manufacture polythene bags in Ghana should also go into producing flat polythene sheets of various sizes to be used as food wrappers. In addition, I also feel that the ban should be extended to sellers of uncooked food items such as meat and fish to ensure that such items are not contaminated in their raw states.
While we are about it, we might as well mention the very insanitary conditions prevailing in some markets. With chocked drains, giant-size rubbish heaps, and the urine that some market women so generously add to it all, one wonders how safe we are in eating the food that we buy from the markets. I would like to appeal to market women’s organizations all over the country to assume full responsibility for the cleaning of their ‘offices’ and to ensure that proper sanitary conditions prevail in the markets at all times.
One feature of the rejoinder is that it has to have the same heading as that of the article or letter that is being responded to. The word rejoinder must be written alongside the title as in the example above.
This is to make it easy for readers to connect the two articles or letters since the title, the author, and the particular edition of the journal in which the original article or letter appeared are mentioned in the rejoinder, so that readers who may have missed the original may find it easy to locate it and connect the two.