Letter: The value of letters to the editor

LETTER WRITER: Steven Hawkins at a recent book signing. Courtesy photo

Writing letters to the editor to newspapers is a great way for a person to get involved with the local affairs of the regional area. It is also a great way for people to take part in citizen journalism. For people who write editorial letters, it allows them to give their voice to local issues and what is the local community’s wisest course of action.

As a frequent letter writer, I have had the opportunity to tell people to enjoy the tourist attractions, historic site gems and the happenings and goings on here in South Carolina and North Carolina. And I have written letters for some of the largest newspapers of the regional area. Since I started writing letters to the editor in 2014, I have written for more than 35 newspapers and written more than 86 editorial letters. In my letter-writing career, I have written newspapers throughout South Carolina and written to many places I have traveled to with my family and friends in North Carolina.

A collection of my editorial letters and writings was self-published in a book last year with AuthorHouse publishers, titled Letters from South Carolina. My book even includes letters from many fine North Carolina publications, such as the Asheville Citizen Times, Mountain Xpress of Asheville, South Charlotte Weekly, The Dispatch [of Lexington] and Asheboro Courier-Tribune. I have admired and looked up to older and deceased prolific letter writers from the Carolinas, such as Leroy Vance Corbett, who was published in the Raleigh News & Observer; Bill Beerman, who published letters in the Greensboro News & Record; and Ovalyn Williams, who published letters in the Anderson (S.C.) Independent Mail.

I have also looked up to and emulated nationally known letter writers in the news, such as Marcia Deihl, who was published in The Boston Globe; Felicia Nimue Ackerman from Providence, R.I., who is a frequent letter writer for The New York Times; Larry Penner with The New York Times; Frances Wideman from Birmingham, Ala.; Kenneth Zimmerman from Huntington Beach, Calif.; and Bobby “Shaggy” Crawford from New York, who has published letters in skateboarding magazines.

Writing letters to the editor provides citizens with a great way to change the world. It allows many regular citizens to say their own 2 cents in what happens in the world and gives high visibility to issues that might have been easily neglected and overshadowed in the recent news. And with this coronavirus, it allows people to cope with this bad pandemic and tragedy that is still getting worse and worse. The art of writing great letters to the editor will live on through the ages and never end or fade away.

— Steven Hawkins
Greenville, S.C.

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12 thoughts on “Letter: The value of letters to the editor

  1. MOLLIEDW22

    Hi Steven,
    Thank you so much for sharing your book with us! I love the cover art. I would love to read it. I agree that writing letters is so important, and I am very impressed with all of the letters and publications to whom you have written. Keep up the awesome work!
    Sincerely,
    Mollie

  2. Jane Hatley

    It is great to have people like you who keep our newspapers –and our communities–on their toes and responsible for what they put in print. Thank you for taking the time to write so many letters over the years!

  3. David Hinton

    Steven, thank you for reminding us that opinions matter. Far too many people have opinions but rather than put them in a concise form of a letter to the editor, they choose to post hateful and always unhelpful comments in response to others who take the time to write.

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  4. klbboone

    Thank you Steven for your positive outlook on your community- this was wonderful to read today. Good luck to you in your endeavors!

  5. MsB

    Thank you for you observations, Steven. Letters to the editor can also be useful historic references for researchers since they are voices from all walks of life preserved for many years.

  6. Brent Brown

    I found this letter to the editor, regarding the value of letters to the editor, to be quite valuable! Thank you!

  7. C-Law

    Kudos Mr. Hawkins for working to make your voice heard and to share in the marketplace of ideas! Free speech and thought is the greatest of our God-given natural rights.

    Here’s to hoping we can give a fair hearing to other views and not act shocked and offended to discover that there are other views!

    “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted all else follows.”

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  8. Lou

    This is such an awesome idea and a great example of how to be proactive, not just reactive. Good on you Steven!! Best to you and stay safe!

  9. george bazley

    Hello! I owe much to you in the way of inspiration as well as motivation; last week I actually sent in and had my very first letter to the editor printed here in the MountainXpress! So, this piece you rendered actually couldn’t have come at a more advantageously serendipitous time for me; thank you deeply for your contributions over the years and your unswerving dedication!

    • george bazley

      Also, do you have an email or other means by which I could contact you? I’ve actually got a few questions and would like your advice and thoughts on matters of letter writing; I would much appreciate and value any help you could extend my way! Just let me know; thanks again!

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