This genre-analysis paper looks at three letters to different newspaper editors. In order to be in opposition to come up with concrete claims about the characteristics of letters to the editor, I decided to pick letters from three major newspapers; the New York Times, the Boston Globe and the Los Angele Times. The letter from the New York Times is entitled “The Ethical Debate of Assisted Suicide” and is written by Jeffrey Freeman. This letter is intended to reach the social domain of the American society especially those audiences who have concerns over the involvement of physicians in helping critical patients commit a more compassionate suicide. This letter is meant to persuade the audiences not to view assisted suicide as being a form of murder but helpful practice for the terminally ill within the society. The information from this letter is cited therefore making it more credible. The second letter is from the Boston Globe and it is entitled “Verdict still out on Medicare” by Pittman, Malcolm. This letter focuses on the political sphere of the American society and therefore targets audiences who are politically active and alert. This letter tends to inform its audiences about the partisan politics that are evident in government relating to the controversial health care bill. The information from this letter is cited and is hence reliable because it shows that the author drew his material from other sources before putting it together to form a concrete argument. The last letter is from the Los Angeles Times entitled “Sarah Palin and Paul Revere; the difficulties of caring for terminal relatives at home; job prospects among the long-term unemployed” by Michael Jenning. It touches the economic realm of the American Society. The author employs a persuasive tone to convince the American population that job opportunities can still be created. The information from this letter is also cited and can hence be relied on for reference due to the variety of sources consulted before it was compiled and published. Though these letters are from different newspapers, three things stand out to be the same. First of all the letters build their argument on an idea that had been developed in a previous article of the same newspaper. Secondly, the word range for these letters is 140-150 words. Finally all the three letters touch on a sphere of the society political, economic or social.
Looking at the fact that these letters build their arguments on other articles that had previously been published in the same newspapers, it is clear that the authors of these letters give credit to the authors of the articles from which they build on. For example, Malcolm Pittman in his letter entitled “Verdict still out on Medicare” in plain words gives credit to John Sununu for his previous letter entitled “Big White Lies amid the Corn Field.” From this previous letter Pittmann is able to formulate his argument by using Sununu’s school of thought as supporting block. Shifting gears to the length of these letters, it is clear that the letters are very concise and to the letter. Any general ideas are not extrapolated so that only important information can be written down. This accounts for the reason why the length of these letters ranges from 140-150 words. For example “The Ethical Debate of Assisted Suicide” by Jeffrey Freeman is 147 words while “Verdict Still out of Medicare” by Malcolm Pittman is 143 words.
Finally all the three letters address a given sphere of the society. For example Jeffrey Freeman’s letter entitled “The Ethical Debate over Assisted Suicide” addresses a social sphere. The letter tries to inform the audience that there are people who have decided to view assisted suicide as a practice that is ethical and have benefited from it. This information is out to influence the cultural norms of the American society in that the audiences are supposed to decide for themselves whether to incorporate such a practice into the social realm. On the other hand Malcolm Pittman’s letter “Verdict Still out of Medicare” is purely political and therefore addresses a completely different sphere of the society compared to Freeman’s letter.
In conclusion, all the three letters build on previous letters from different authors who they highly credit; they address either the political, social, economic or political domain of the society, and are approximately 140-150 words. Additionally, they are all written in first person. Out of these three letters Michael Jennings letter “Sarah Palin and Paul Revere; the difficulties of caring for terminal relatives at home; job prospects among the long-term unemployed” was more effective in conveying the message in that it drew in the reader to believe that job prospects are really available. Jenning tries to convince his readers all he is saying is true. This is a fundamental tool in engaging readers. Therefore persuasive, genres tend to be more effective compared to informative or entertainment genres. It is worthwhile to conclude that the manner in which a given author frames a given critique or argument highly influences the impact of that given genre on discourse.
Freeman, Jeffrey, B. “The Ethical Debate of Assisted Suicide.” Letter to Editor
New York Times. 8 June 2011. Letters. New York: The New York Times Company,
2011. 3-4. www.nytimes.com. Web. 8 June 2011.
Jenning, Michael. “Sarah Palin and Paul Revere; the difficulties of caring for
terminal relatives at home; job prospects among the long-term unemployed.”
8 June 2011. Opinion. Van Nuys: Los Angeles Times, 2011. 2-3. LAT online
store. Web. 8 June 2011.
Pittman, Malcolm. “Verdict still out on Medicare.” Letter to Editor Boston Globe.
8 June 2011. Today’s Globe. Cambridge: Boston Globe, 2011. 5-6.
boston.com. Web. 8 June 2011.