Letters 101

POSTED AT 12:00 AM ON Sep. 13, 2006 


So you've decided to kill some time reading the Indiana Daily Student. After checking out the Sports Page, trying your hand at the Sudoku puzzle and wondering if anyone actually gets Blender Kitty, you come to the Opinion Page. And right there, under that smug, self-righteous mugshot, some cretin has written a column that you know to be downright untrue. Sure, the facts might be accurate, but the author is ignoring the lessons of 1968 (or any other year), or you know his side is far more to blame for the problem, or she clearly misunderstands your group. It's time to write a letter.

Cool! Good for you. The Opinion Page serves as the interactive part of the paper, and among other things, our job is to try to spark discussion about major campus issues. By writing in, you're taking part in that important process. IU, after all, is not just a school; it's a learning community, making it doubly important that we engage in free and open debate. And while everyone else is sitting around picking their noses, you're doing your part.

That said, there are some things you should know about writing us letters -- things that could mean the difference between getting your opinion out and wasting time on something that'll never get past our inbox.

First, the basics: Letters are printed every Thursday in the Jordan River Forum -- so named for the mighty tributary flowing near Ernie Pyle Hall, home of the IDS H.Q. You can e-mail letters to or, fill out a form on the IDS Web site ( or mail an actual, paper letter to: Opinion Desk, Indiana Daily Student, 940 E. Seventh St., 120 Ernie Pyle Hall, Bloomington, IN 47405. Always include your name, contact information (e-mail, phone, address) and your class rank (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) or relationship to IU (graduate student, staff, faculty, etc.). We choose which letters to publish Wednesdays, at about noon, and, once published, they're readable both in the paper's printed editions and on our Web site.

Now, some tips for getting your letter printed:

• So that we can get a variety of voices in the paper, we maintain a 350-word limit on letters. Read that again. Not 400, not 500, not 600 and certainly not 1,500 words.

• You must have written it. We won't reprint something that you simply pasted into an e-mail.

• The more relevant a letter is to our readers, the more likely that we'll print it. Hint: IU students have little direct influence over U.S. foreign policy.

• Edit and re-edit the letter before sending it to us. Remember that at least 15,000 people might read it.

• Finally, if you're reacting to a story from The Associated Press, know that those people don't work at the IDS.

So with that, we look forward to reading your letters. You might start by complaining about this very column.


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