Joseph Henderson’s letter to the editor on September 03, “An Hourly Worker’s Questions for the President,” can be dissected into the 10 essential components. These 10 essential components are comprised of a citation, an objection, a clarification, credentials, a premise, support, the truth, a hopeful proposal, the rhetorical flourish, and a call to action. One can already see without reading the letter to the editor that is must contain all 10 essential components. How do we know this, because if you leave out an essential component, you won’t get into print and this letter has made it into the New York Times.
Editors will not publish your opinion on an article as a letter to the editor unless you specifically name the article you have read. Joseph prepares his letter to the editor by regarding “Reviving the American Working Class” (editorial, Aug. 30). This lets the editors know precisely what article and on what date it was published that he is responding to. The only minor critique I could give Joseph’s citation is that it lacks the original author’s name. This negligible factor isn’t necessary, but it is one more piece of information that expedites the editors publishing process.
Another way to easily not get your letter published is by agreeing with everything you read. Now, Joseph Henderson clearly objects to an idea and is disagreeing with what he calls “just in time scheduling.” However, he doesn’t clearly state what exactly in the original article he is concerning the specific idea he is objecting to. As a reader, I should be able to understand without viewing the original publication what it is all about through the letter to the editor.
Clarifying at least one notable detail on the topic can start your credibility. The author fulfills this by stating that “Each month the Labor Department releases a new job report.” This shows that Joseph has taken the time to understand the intricacies of the topic at hand. This clarification only strengthens his claimed credentials and shows he truly has stock in the argument. He feels passionate that what he is objecting is for the greater good and will in fact effect his life, those around him, and many in the same situation.
Joseph’s premise isn’t just modifying a mistake he believes the original author has made, he is making an argument of his own entirely. His premise is clearly that he objects a harmful labor practice that not only effects America’s lowest paid workers, but benefits corporate executives. He is able to support his premise by sharing first hand his own experience in brief but packed detail. Joseph writes how he is being effected personally and the toll it has on others in his hometown. This only makes it harder for those without his experience to rebuttal and easier for those that do to connect and get behind him.
The author concludes his premise with a truth. “But that rosy portrait of job creation and increased wages is not borne out by the realities many of us live with.” With this truth Joseph has created his own headline right in the letter to the editor itself. He follows up with a hopeful proposal that in short says that we as people can and must do better than this. He leaves the readers with hope that with a large enough effort and the support of a large enough group this problem can be solved.
The rhetorical flourish is the author’s chance to brazenly tug at the emotions of the readers. Joseph has many examples of rhetorical flourish throughout his letter. An example can be seen in this statement made by him, “Many parents will learn they can’t be home to make their children’s dinner and have to scramble for child care.” Using children, their grandchildren, or the future in general always makes a strong rhetorical flourish. Then there leaves only one important component left, and that is a call to action. He concludes with a call to action that doesn’t just ask but begs someone or anyone to take action and to help make a difference.
Brilliant and thorough analysis, Christopharo.