Write Your Newspaper and Voice Support for a Secure Internet

Sound off about this week’s cabinet hearings and stand up for digital rights.

Do you think our privacy and security online are essential? Do you think our government should do more to protect — and not undermine — a healthy Internet?

At Mozilla, we do, too. And we have the opportunity to do something about it.

This week, the U.S. Senate is conducting hearings about potential cabinet members for the incoming Trump administration. These Cabinet members will play a major role in shaping policy that affects Internet health. So shouldn’t we know where they stand on issues like encryption and Internet users’ cybersecurity? We think so — but the issue of everyday Internet users’ cybersecurity has largely been absent from the hearings so far.

We’re asking you to sound off about the cabinet hearings and stand up for digital rights. How? With a Letter to the Editor in your daily newspaper. Let the editors — and readers — know that everyday Internet users’ cybersecurity must be taken seriously.

Letters to the Editor are one of the oldest and most effective methods of free speech. They’re an opportunity to share your opinion with a wide audience, from fellow citizens to influential policymakers.

Below, Mozilla makes it easy to write your Letter to the Editor. Let’s get started.

STEP ONE: Identify your newspaper

Newspapers of all types — print and digital, local and national — accept Letters to the Editor. Select a newspaper that is important to you. It may cover news in your region, or it may be a source you turn to regularly for news on policy and technology.

You will often have a better chance of being published in your regional paper than you will a national outlet like the New York Times, which receives thousands of submissions each day.

STEP TWO: Read their Letters to the Editor guidelines

Newspapers ask readers to follow certain rules when submitting Letters to the Editor. Common rules include:

  • Wordcount. Letters are generally between 100 and 300 words.
  • Submission best-practices. Letters should generally be sent as email text, not an attachment. Editors generally ask for a specific subject line, like “Letter: [Topic].”
  • If possible, reference a story about your issue — in this case, the Senate confirmation hearings — from the paper in which you are submitting your letter.
  • Contact information. Letters should include the author’s full name, phone number and email address.
  • Exclusivity. Many newspapers will only publish letters that haven’t been submitted elsewhere.

Be sure to read and adhere to your newspaper’s rules.

Newspapers will also indicate to whom the letters should be sent. Often, the email address is letters@[newspaper URL], like letters@nytimes.com. Other times, news websites have a Letters to the Editor submission form, like the Washington Post.

Here are helpful guidelines from a handful of newspapers:

STEP THREE: Write your letter

Start your letter by referencing a story published in the past few days. Search your newspaper for coverage of the recent cabinet hearings and cite that story at the start of your letter.

Example: Dear Editor: In response to “Congressional Cabinet Hearings” published on Jan. 11, 2017…”

Next, be sure to write in a concise and compelling manner. Express your opinion, argue for it and then end your note.

Example: “I believe Jeff Sessions’ stance on encryption is one of the most important factors in determining his eligibility…” or “During the recent cabinet hearings, Congress failed to ask cabinet nominees about two pressing issues: privacy and security online…”

If you need a hand crafting your letter, take a look at Mozilla’s recent blog post on the cabinet hearings. It should provide helpful inspiration!

STEP FOUR: Send it!

Share your Letter to the Editor and keep an eye out for a response or publication.

Also, send a copy our way! We’d love to read your thoughts, and share your words with the rest of the movement for a healthy Internet. <kevin@mozillafoundation.org>

Need a hand? Questions or comments? We can help. For assistance with your Letter to the Editor, write us at kevin@mozillafoundation.org.

Via Flickr / Derrick Noh
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