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Brevity is magic.
Post by Fran Quigly
Fran is on the leadership team of Bread for the World – Indiana. Fran served as a news editor at NUVO Weekly and executive director of the Indiana ACLU before coming to the Indiana University School of Medicine's Kenya Partnership as Director of Development and Operations. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and three children.
Panel participants Shannon Williams, Laura McPhee and Dennis Ryerson
"Brevity is magic. Connect your letter with a recent news story. Be persistent."
That was the advice for submitting a letter to the editor given by three Indiana news editors who joined a panel discussion at the Bread for the World statewide conference in Indiana in late March. The editors were:
• Dennis Ryerson, editor of The Indianapolis Star--by far the largest newspaper in the state
• Shannon Williams, editor of The Indianapolis Recorder--the largest and oldest African American newspaper in the state, and
• Laura McPhee, news editor for NUVO Newsweekly, our alternative weekly.
Together, these publications reach nearly a half-million central Indiana residents and are followed closely by elected officials. I used to work in politics and found that elected officials paid more attention to media than any group of people I have ever known. Remember, they are professional popularity contest winners and want to know what the voters are reading and hearing. If we are serious about helping the millions of hungry people in the world, connecting with the media is a must!
As part of the panel discussion, two Indiana Bread members read aloud proposed letters to the editor, including a stinging rebuke of The Star for placing a wire services story about people in Haiti being forced to eat dirt right next to a large ad for bariatric bypass surgery. Ryerson of The Star said he definitely would have published that letter, noting that letters directed at the newspaper’s coverage are among the highest priority for publication.
With tighter budgets on reporting staff, getting media to cover a story on hunger and poverty issues is at least as challenging as getting a letter to the editor printed. But the Indiana editors said that stories with local angles, interesting characters and compelling facts (and what is more compelling than hunger?) will always be a priority. So we activists should never hesitate to push for coverage.
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