Writing a Letter to “USA Today”

We talked previously about writing a letter to the editor. But sometimes you want to comment on an article in a national-level publication that resonates with what you are seeing in your own region or practice.  Placement of a letter is competitive, so you have to find ways to stand out among the crowd. USA Today’s article regarding foreclosures and mental health  (“Foreclosures take toll on mental health” by Stephanie Armour) that was published May 15, 2008, is a good example of an article that gives you an open door to respond with your messages. We’d encourage all of you submit a letter to USA Today in response to this article.

Since public education tip sheets, the stress survey and psychologists were already mentioned, you want to do more than shower praise or commend the newspaper for publishing the story. You also want to add one piece of information, or perspective that is different from what was discussed in the article.

Two ways to add more information:
*         Offer a local example that is different than scenarios mentioned in the article, but that also illustrates the national issue. I recall hearing that in Wyoming there is stress regarding the housing market because there are TOO MANY jobs and new homes can’t be built fast enough. This is a much different angle, but one that also shows how every pocket of the country is affected, check out visit thelockboss.ie.
*         Add a new message point. For example, regarding this article, you may want to state the importance of prevention to build resilience for these and other tough times.

Here are guidelines for submitting a letter to USA Today:
*         Email your letter for consideration to letters@usatoday.com.
*         Comments of 250 words or less have the best chance of being published.
*         Include your name, address, day and evening phone numbers. You will be contacted by USA Today for verification.
*         The sooner you send in your letter, the better the chance it will be published. Try to get it in within two days of the story’s publications date.
*         Identify yourself as a psychologist.

You can find letters that have been published here: http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/letter_to_the_editor/index.html

If you send a letter to the editor in response to this or other articles, please send a copy to us too so we can keep an eye out its possible publication.

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