Sunday, June 26 2016

Sample letters

Here are some sample letters that you can use as a template when drafting your own letters to the press. Please remember these are guidelines only. The more unique your letter is, the more likely it is to attract attention so don’t copy these samples, follow their guidelines.


How to respond in praise of an article / programme

How to respond to an inaccurate article / programme

How to respond to a biased article / programme

How to respond to a misleading article / programme

Some examples


1. How to respond in praise of an article / programme:

Dear [Sir/ Madam] or [To Whom It May Concern] or [insert editor’s/journalist’s name],

I am writing in praise of [insert article/programme title] by [insert journalist/presenter name] which was published/broadcast on [insert date (and time is referring to a TV/radio piece)].

I thought the piece very well researched and thoughtfully written, displaying a degree of objectivity that one rarely witnesses in much of today’s media. The journalist [and producer, if referring to TV/radio] in my opinion deserves to be commended for an outstanding piece of work.

It is worthy contributions such as these that remind us of the importance and power of the media to inform and educate society for the better. Long may this continue at [newspaper/ TV station name].

Yours sincerely,

[insert your name and contact details].

2. How to respond to an inaccurate article / programme:

Dear [Sir/ Madam] or [To Whom It May Concern] or [insert editor’s/journalist’s name],
I am writing in complaint of [insert article/programme title] by [insert journalist/presenter name] which was published/broadcast on [insert date (and time is referring to a TV/radio piece)].

[Insert journalist name] states in [his/her] article/programme that [insert excerpt of article/ programme that was inaccurate]. If [journalist name] spent more time faithfully researching [his/her] article and less time on conjuring up ‘facts’ that fit [his/her] outlook, [s/he] might find that [state why the excerpt is false].

Peddling falsehoods as facts in order to win over supporters to your cause brings not only journalists into disrepute but also the newspapers/ broadcasters that allow such things the space to be aired. Whilst there is much room for many things in the press/ on television, the publication/broadcast of inaccurate pieces by journalists to lazy to properly research their stories ought not to be one of them.

I have copied this letter to the Press Complaints Commission.

I look forward to your correction and reply.

Yours sincerely,

[insert your name and contact details]

3. How to respond to a biased article / programme:

Dear [Sir/ Madam] or [To Whom It May Concern] or [insert editor’s/journalist’s name],

I am writing in reference to [insert article/programme title] by [insert journalist/presenter name] which was published/broadcast on [insert date (and time is referring to a TV/radio piece)].

I am deeply disappointed at your willingness to offer space in your newspaper/ tv or radio programme to an article of such obvious ill repute. The views expressed in the piece were in no properly balanced with counter arguments so as to provide a semblance of neutrality.

[details some of the things written/said that constitute flagrant bias].

The article points to a clear weakness in [insert journalist’s name] understanding and practice of objectivity and of a more alarming instance of flawed editorial policy. I hope both these issues are dealt with as a matter of urgency.

Yours sincerely

[insert your name and contact details]

4. How to respond to a misleading article / programme:

Dear [Sir/ Madam] or [To Whom It May Concern] or [insert editor’s/journalist’s name],

I am writing with reference to [insert article/programme title] by [insert journalist/presenter name] which was published/broadcast on [insert date (and time is referring to a TV/radio piece)].

The article/programme features a section which I thought misleading.

[Insert excerpt that you think is misleading and briefly explain why you consider it to be misleading. This may be because of the way the story is written or because of the context in which the story is presented.]

I hope you will accept that the story could for these reasons be easily misconstrued and that you will correct the offending passage promptly.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

[insert your name and contact details]

5. Some examples

You can read some examples of letters that have been published in UK newspapers below. Note their style, content and brevity.

Islam's image

Amis and McEwan: speaking the truth or promoting stereotypes?

Questions remain over what British Muslims think

NUS black students officer defends mainstream Muslim organisations

This carry on about Muslim dress

Melanie Phillips is inciting hatred

British Muslims and terrorism

In a time of Islamised politics, who speaks for British Muslims?

1. Islam's image
Daily Telegraph
1 Dec 2007

Sir - Muslim leaders in Britain keep trying to tell us that they are a loving, kind faith. Really?

Hindus, Jews, Sikhs, Christians, and atheists, none of them like being offended. Who does?

But the only faith that talks of lashings for naming a teddy bear and death for apostates is Islam.

Alastair Muir, Glasgow

Sir - Most of the surahs of the Koran commence: "In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful".

Yet the Sudanese court that tried Gillian Gibbons seems to be lacking both in compassion and mercy and has harmed moves to foster greater respect and understanding between Muslims and Christians.

Keith Berry, Malvern, Worcestershire

Sir - How right Boris Johnson is (Comment, November 29) in appealing for all fair-minded Muslims to speak out against the extremists of their faith: but don't hold your breath.

Didn't Edmund Burke say: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"?

Brian Foster, Shrivenham, Oxfordshire

2. Amis and McEwan: speaking the truth or promoting stereotypes?
The Guardian
22 Nov 2007

Ian McEwan's defence of his friend Martin Amis (Letters, November 21) rests on two arguments, which are conflated. The first is the freedom of speech argument. But just because one has the right to express an opinion does not mean it is right to express it. In any case, Ronan Bennett's article (G2, November 19) did not argue that one should not criticise Islam or Muslims per se; rather, it was the manner of the criticism - sweeping generalisations and stereotypes, holding all Muslims responsible for the opinions and actions of just some - that he found objectionable, and rightly so.

To excuse those generalisations, McEwan cites views on apostasy which he says are both "morally repugnant" and "mainstream". But just because something is "in" a religion doesn't mean it is mainstream. Christians and Jews are not assumed to be selling their daughters into slavery, even though that is in the Old Testament, and neither are mainstream Muslims necessarily baying for the blood of coreligionists who turn away from their faith. There are indeed some Muslims - perhaps even many - who agree with the "repugnant" views on apostasy, but there are also many Muslims who are not particularly religious, or have lost their faith, living quite happily within Muslim communities and societies.

McEwan's logic would have us believe that a non-religious or secularised Muslim is an impossibility for fear of the repercussions - an Orwellian vision of a totalitarian Islam that is itself a stereotype. In defending his friend, he merely confirms that both of them do not really know what they are talking about.

Dr Anshuman Mondal
Brunel University

3. Questions remain over what British Muslims think
The Guardian
6 Feb 2007

Policy Exchange's report Living Apart Together, about Muslim social attitudes (Report, January 30; Comment, February 1; Response, February 2), is their second report on British Muslims in two years and informed David Cameron's speech on security and multiculturalism last week. While we welcome Policy Exchange's contributions to understanding Muslim communities and their place in Britain, we are concerned by its framework for analysis.
The report's central claim is that Muslims have increasingly self-segregated under policies of multiculturalism. This contradicts all leading research on the matter and makes their claim empirically unsustainable. Professors Ludi Simpson, Ceri Peach and Danny Dorling each argue that the general trend is one of increased dispersal or decreasing geographical concentration of ethnic minorities, one measure of integration.

Moreover, the report's conclusions are based on quantitative research seeking to capture the social attitudes of British Muslims. We suggest that its conclusions are not a reliable guide because of a research-design method that places excessive reliance upon phone polling, and is not transparent about the questions and interviews that were put to individuals. Therefore, the central report's finding that there is a growing minority of British Muslims who are choosing to "live apart" and do not accept the norms of British society is not reliable.

The Cabinet Office's Equality, Diversity and Prejudice Survey 2006, produced by Professors Dominic Abrams and Diane Houston, confirms that out of all social groups Muslims are at a higher risk of stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination on all relevant markers. In this light, we would urge the media to act more responsibly in its dissemination of research on Muslims and Islam.

Professor Tariq Modood Ziauddin Sardar
University of Bristol Commissioner, Commission for Equality and Human Rights

4. NUS black students officer defends mainstream Muslim organisations
The Guardian
1 February 2007

Tory attacks on mainstream Muslim organisations are unfounded. Far from promoting separatism or sharia law, organisations such as the Muslim Council of Britain have worked hard to engage the Muslim community with the British political process.

It is telling that while David Cameron attacked both multiculturalism and immigration as causes of division, he had nothing to say about the rising racism that British Muslims have to confront. In comparing Muslim organisations to the fascist British National Party he risks legitimising an organisation that really is committed to separation and division.

Misrepresenting Muslims in this way will do nothing to promote community cohesion or to tackle the terrorist threat.

Ruqayyah Collector, NUS black students officer

5. This carry on about Muslim dress
The Guardian
18 Oct 2006

It was refreshing to read the article by Martin Newland (G2, October 16). He is the only commentator who seems to understand that women choose to wear the Niqab as an expression of their faith and that you can still be a "regular person", albeit religious. I am a Muslim woman, as well as a practising barrister, past Labour parliamentary candidate, human-rights adviser to the mayor of London and past worker for the UN mission in Kosovo. But I fast, give zakat (alms), have performed Haj, say the slaat (prayers), do not drink, and am proud to call myself Muslim, will never wear a short dress or a bikini etc.

At the same time, I love, like many of my Muslim friends and family, watching Carry On films, Benny Hill, Rory Bremner, Have I Got News for You, love fish and chips, and have friends from all religions, cultures and backgrounds. Go and talk to and get to know a Muslim. Then you will know they are no different to anyone else.

I always thought the best thing about being British was that as long as you obeyed the laws, you could lead your life as you wanted. And yet we are all being pushed into one straightjacket. Just as people who want to "take their kit off" have the right to do so, so should people who want to "keep their kit on". This debate has already got some nasty undertones to it - and a lot of underlying ignorance.

Yasmin Qureshi

Zaiba Malik writes about the discomfort of wearing the veil (G2, October 17). Do not assume that Muslim women who freely choose the veil feel the same way. Aside from whether it is mandatory in Islam, many women who choose to wear the veil explain that God makes it easy for them because they sincerely believe in it and the desire to wear it comes from their hearts. We should not underestimate the strength and resilience that individuals can obtain through their faith.

Nusrat Chagtai Morden

6. Melanie Phillips is inciting hatred
The Observer
4 June 2006

Melanie Phillips (Comment, last week) may be right about the radicalising impact of The Satanic Verses and the Bosnian war on many Muslims, but her continued penchant for blaming the religion of Islam and depicting all Muslims as extremist murderers is a disgrace. Imagine her horror if someone wrote that Judaism had become fused with murder. It is naked incitement to argue that Islam and all Muslims in Britain are intent on killing when this only applies to a very small, albeit very extreme, minority.
If Phillips's nonsense was even partially accurate, we would have mass murders and bombings every day as one million British Muslims fulfilled their divinely ordained mandate. This anti-Islamic invective is no less despicable than the anti-semitism that Phillips regularly castigates others for.

Chris Doyle
London EC4

7. In a time of Islamised politics, who speaks for British Muslims?
The Independent
18 Aug 2005

Sir: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown ("Britain's black and Asian communities have squandered the unity that gave us strength", 15 August 2005), makes the claim that the Muslim Council of Britain is undemocratic and its members unelected.

The MCB has over 400 affiliated Muslim organisations who take part in elections held every two years to the MCB's Central Working Committee. Sir Iqbal Sacranie was unanimously elected (not arbitrarily "crowned") as the Secretary-General of the MCB by its affiliates in the last election, held in May 2004. Many of the affiliates of the MCB in turn hold elections in respect of their own leadership, for example, the Islamic Society of Britain and the Muslim Association of Britain.

Contrary to Alibhai-Brown's assertion, Sir Iqbal Sacranie does not regard himself as the "spokesman for all British Muslims". The MCB is certainly the largest umbrella body for British Muslims but we make no claim to speak on behalf of all 1.6 million British Muslims.


. British Muslims and terrorism
Daily Telegraph
23 Aug 2005

Sir - Your report (August 22) was unfair to the Muslim Council of Britain. Once the MCB receives an affiliation form from a Muslim organisation, we ask local people to verify that the applicant group is a bona fide Islamic organisation engaged in community work. If an organisation was extremist, we would presumably be told at this point.

The fact that one of our affiliates, the Markazi Jamiat Ahl-i-Hadith, has a website in which there is one article containing very objectionable views does not in itself make Ahl-i-Hadith an "extremist" organisation.

After the Madrid bombings in April 2004, the MCB wrote to every single Islamic institution in the country to urge them to be vigilant against the terror threat facing our country and to provide the police with any information that would be potentially helpful to them in preventing an attack from occurring.

Last September, the MCB published 500,000 copies of a Pocket Guide on Rights and Responsibilities, in which we prominently included a section on "Vigilance and the Terror Threat". This section included the Anti-Terror Hotline Number. Panorama failed to mention these actions by the MCB.

Inayat Bunglawala, Secretary, Media Committee, The Muslim Council of Britain, London E1

Last Updated on Monday, 29 September 2008 11:52

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