Golden Pen/Keyboard Club
FOCUS THE MEDIA ON MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES!
Tired of hearing just the politicians? Join the dialogue by publishing letters and articles in local and statewide newspapers or take part in interviews on the radio or TV. Educate Connecticut on the importance of mental health services and supports!
How It Works
Anyone can participate. The article/letter/interview must be mental health related and be published or recorded between October 1 and August 1 of each year. Recognition will be given to the organizations and individuals who focus constructive media attention on KTP-focused mental health issues.
- Get a picture and story printed about your group’s work or advocacy
- Get interviewed on the radio/TV
- Write a letter to the editor and get it published
- Hold an event and get media coverage (a news article)
- Send your published article/letter or information about your interview/media event to us at the address below or fax to 860-343-5314.
An added bonus – published articles will be part of the Coalition’s weekly lit drops during the legislative session, which means every state representative and senator will receive a copy of your work. IF YOU DON’T DO IT, WHO WILL???
If you’re going to take on the task of writing one or several of the newspapers you will need a List of Daily and Weekly Newspapers. Please click here for that list. REMEMBER: Only submit to one paper at a time!
This is the most widely read section of the newspaper. Use it!
To increase the chances of your letter getting published follow these rules:
1. If possible, write about something that recently ran in the publication. No matter how well-written, if the letter does not pertain to an earlier letter, story or editorial item, it may be rejected
2. Shoot for 200 words or less. Longer letters will not be published or will be severely edited. *Check with the publication to see how many words they allow – the Letters section of many newspapers is shrinking!
3. Use short sentences and short paragraphs (two to three short sentences).
4. Include your name, home address, and phone numbers. They will usually only print your name, town, and title/affiliation (if any). Editors will contact you to verify that you sent the letter.
5. Stick to the issue. Personal attacks do more harm than good and we all know that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar!
6. If you want to try sending the letter to different papers, be sure to reformat it. Papers will not publish the same materials.
7. Many newspapers have links on their web pages to submit letters to the editor directly. If you have access to a computer, this is the easiest way to submit.
You may want to write a letter to the editor in the event the reporter does not contact you, or other appropriate persons, as a source for a story related to community-based treatment for persons with serious mental illnesses. Keep the letter short and accentuate the positive. You may also write a letter to the editor if you believe a story did not reflect the key points you wanted to make or to clarify your position.
Know the Classic Form for a Letter to the Editor:
1. The first paragraph refers to the article and states the reaction to it.
2. The second paragraph expounds on the article and why you agree or disagree. Here you can inject anecdotes, quotes, statistics, and any other backup that supports the point.
3. The third paragraph is for wrap-up and to restate the major point.
NOTE: Most newspapers provide guidelines for their letters to the editor. Many publish them in their publications and/or on their website, or provide an e-mail or telephone contact. Use them!
Members of Coalitions who are well-known for their expertise in mental health matters, and well-known people who have had personal experiences with mental illness, are the perfect candidates for writing op-ed pieces.
The op-ed gets its name from its position in most papers: on the page opposite the editorial page. It is not an “oppositional editorial.” Most papers do NOT want articles they obviously agree with. They are NOT letters to the editor, though the terms are often confused.
Op-eds are written on all subjects from a variety of subjects and topics. Sometimes they are written in reaction to the news of the day. Sometimes they are on new, fresh subjects.
The best way to write op-eds is to read op-eds. Read a sampler of op-eds from the paper you are targeting. Get a feeling for what the editors require.
Speak to the op-ed editor before sending the proposed op-ed. Find out what s/he is looking for and what they require. Talk to him/her after you send it.
Shoot for 600 words. Stop at 650. A long op-ed will either never be published or will be severely cut by an editor who may not share your concerns. *Refer to individual publications for their requirements.
Competition for space is unbelievably tight. Organize your thoughts, gather your statistics and make your points as briefly as possible, just like writing a sound bite – only this one is 600 words long. Write the op-ed very carefully and very well. Do not write by committee, but have the best writers on staff or in your organization proofread it. Use declarative sentences and tell the story directly and simply. Back up your points with facts.
Placement of an op-ed is significantly enhanced if it is written by people who are considered newsworthy or leaders in the community.
Whether sending the op-ed by mail or fax, include a short note explaining what your mental health coalition is and why it is submitting the piece. Express your willingness to work with the paper in editing the op-ed. Include the contact’s name, address and phone number so the paper can contact the appropriate person. A day or so after submitting the op-ed, call the editor to see if it was received and to re-extend the offer to work with the paper (to help ensure its publication).
Not Sure How to Start?
Call KTP for assistance or media materials at 860-882-0236; 800-215-3021, or write to: Keep the Promise Coalition, c/o NAMI Connecticut, 576 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, CT 06105, or fax us at: 860-882-0240.