Thursday, July 06, 2006


The People and the Power of the Press

In the past two days, the Tennessean Letters to the Editor page has been graced with a few excellent letter and, yes of course, a few bad ones, but, ignoring those, let's celebrate the good pieces. Today, a letter from TCASK Board member Kathryn Lea appeared in response to a letter from a few days ago claiming that the Bible and therefore God support capital punishment. Lea's concise and articulate response can be read here (it's the fourth letter):

On the 4th of July, while most of us were out watching fireworks (East Nashville looked a little bit like a war zone from my roof), another terrific article in regards to Sedley Alley appeared, written by Bobby Braddock. Click here and scroll down to the last letter to read a great message.

Press coverage is vital to the work that we do. Here in the office, we send out press releases and media advisories, we establish and cultivate relationships with reporters and editors, and we plan media events, but sometimes coverage isn't forthcoming, or reporters put their own spin on a story. Letters to the Editor are a wonderful democratic solution. They show grass roots support for our issue and offer a great opportunity to get important messages out without worrying about the 15 second sound bite. With our state looking at three more serious execution dates this summer and fall, the more attention that we can call to our issue in the press, the better.

So even if there aren't any big events or sensational stories for reporters to cover, we can continue to build grassroots support and get media attention through letters and op-eds. By the way, you know who else reads the editorial page? Legislators! It's a great way to demonstrate to our elected officials that there constituents care about the serious flaws in the death penalty system.

So go ahead and write a letter to your local editor. Here are some quick and simple tips to make the letter more effective:

  • Keep it short. Letters should be no more than 250 words.
  • Since you're writing a short letter, pick one central point and stick to it.
  • Proof read. Editors will select well written letters, so no typos.
  • End with a nice sting, witness the great ending lines of both of today's highlighted letters.
  • If you need some timely facts, ask us. The TCASK staff is here to help.

So go to it and demonstrate the power of the people with the power of the press!

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