Subject Material

10 Letters to the Editor

Published: 13.12.2009
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Most newspapers welcome letters from their readers to the editors.  The writer’s letter may e.g. comment on some current political issue, express frustration at the level of service at a public place, joke or quip about some recent event; in fact a letter to the editor could in theory address any topic under the sun and vary in tone from dead serious to very light-hearted. However, they are expected to follow a conventional form.

The form of address is Sir, the writer is expected to give his/her full name and address and the style is normally semi-formal to neutral.

Below is a selection of such letters.

Task 1

Read the letter below and then write a short text, not a letter to the editor, in which you explain the point the writer is trying to make.

Sir,
I have just received an email from a company which feels it can assist in improving my own company’s image, as well as the way in which it is marketed and judged by our customers.
Their email begins: “Dear First Name”.

William Hill, Edingly, Nottinghamshire (The Daily Telegraph, May 2, 2009)

Task 2

Read the letter below and then write a short text in which you explain the purpose of the letter.

Sir,
I am pleased the newspapers are carrying photos of the swine flu virus – at least we’ll be able to recognise it when we encounter it.

Robert Readman, Bournemouth, Dorset, (The Daily Telegraph, May 2, 2009)

In Tasks 3 and 4 you will have to do a bit of research to find out exactly what ‘Mexican Wave’ and ‘Big Issue(s)’ refer to - (try googling for the phrases).

Task 3

Read the letter below and explain the implication of the phrase ‘Mexican wave’ in this context.

Sir,
I read that handshaking should be avoided [in times of the swine flu]. May I suggest a safer alternative when greeting friends: give them a Mexican wave.

David Lydamore, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex (The Daily Telegraph, May 2, 2009)

Task 4

Read the text below and explain the writer’s attitude to Gordon Brown [The British Prime Minister], and how he manages to put it across.

Sir,
Mr Brown should be selling Big Issues, not dealing with big issues.

Michael Begg, Strathconon, Ross-shire (The Daily Telegraph, May 2, 2009)

Task 5

Write your own response in a letter to the Editor of a quality newspaper addressing the issue raised in this fictitious letter to the same paper. Be sure to include your own name and place of residence.

Sir,
The recent legislation which allows health service personnel to give contraceptive pills to teenagers from the age of 16 without informing parents threatens to ‘pit the pupils’ right to privacy against the parents’ right to know’. This is a grave threat to the bonds of affection between parents and children and removes the parents’ legitimate right to provide guidance in matters of sex education.  I am strongly opposed to this new law and ask that it be reversed as soon as possible.