Prepare a Letter to the Editor – Excelsior Writers |
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Write a 250- to 400-word letter to the editor in response to Curtis Wilkie’s editorial “Words Triumph Over Images,” in which you share your opinion about the effects that media have on news.

You may agree or disagree with any of the author’s points or simply give an opinion that expands on his argument, as long as it’s about media. However, you must (1) acknowledge something Wilkie says so it’s clear your letter is a direct response to his editorial and (2) support your opinion by comparing at least two forms of media used in the following: Carolyn Cole’s “Witness to the Tragedy” from Nieman Reports; Cheryl Corley’s “Hope Survives in Search for Katrina’s Missing” from NPR; or “Hurricane Katrina Day by Day” from National Geographic.

For example, what did the photos in Cole’s article express that the text of her article did not? What did the National Geographic video capture that the NPR broadcast did not, or vice versa? Your answers to these and similar questions must support your opinion as you respond to Wilkie’s editorial.

Although you are welcome to discuss Hurricane Katrina — given that all the lesson’s readings concern this topic — your letter must focus on the effects of the media, not on the hurricane itself.

This writing assignment will focus on the following skills:

  • Introducing and developing a claim
  • Supporting an opinion with evidence
  • Using precise language and an appropriate tone, and following guidelines


The assignment for this lesson is as follows:

Write a letter to the editor in response to Curtis Wilkie’s editorial “Words Triumph Over Images.” In the letter, you must give your opinion about how the type of media affects the way people experience news. Support for your opinion must come from the lesson readings. You should compare at least two different forms of media from these readings to back up your argument about why Wilkie is correct or incorrect.

Your assignment should include the following elements:

  • A claim, or main point, that takes a clear stand on the controversy Wilkie discusses in his article
  • An introduction, a body, and a conclusion that organize your thoughts
  • Comparisons of the media used in the three lesson readings to support your opinion

Ask yourself these questions as you revise:

  • Do I take a clear stand on the issue Wilkie is discussing, whether I agree or disagree with him? Do I avoid being wishy-washy?
  • Does my introduction grab the reader’s attention and get to the point fast?
  • Does the body of my letter present evidence from the three lesson readings? Do I back up all my points?
  • Does my conclusion tie up the letter and leave a strong impression?
  • Do I concentrate on the use of media in the lesson readings rather than on the hurricane? When I compare the readings from the lesson, do I avoid comparing their content and instead compare the ways they use media?

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