Write A Letter To The Editor
Oct 3 2005
Get your voice heard on issues important to you! Here’s how.
If you have never written a letter to the editor before, give it a try. Letters to the editor are a great way to speak out on issues important to you and more people than you might think read the letters to the editor every day. Because many newspapers receive a considerable number of letters to the editor every day, your letter will be competing with many others for publication. These guidelines can help you get your letter published on a certain issue.
Sending letters to the editor can achieve many goals because they:
- Reach a large audience.
- Are often monitored by elected officials.
- Can bring up information not addressed in a news article.
- Help build awareness and support for or opposition to an issue.
Tips on Writing Letters to the Editor:
- Keep it short and on one subject. Many newspapers have strict limits on the length of letters and have limited space to publish them. Keeping your letter brief will help assure that your important points are not cut out by the newspaper.
- Make it legible. Your letter doesn’t have to be fancy, but you should use a typewriter or computer word processor if your handwriting is difficult to read.
- Send letters to weekly community newspapers too. The smaller the newspaper’s circulation, the easier it is to get your letter printed.
- Be sure to include your contact information. Many newspapers will only print a letter to the editor after calling the author to verify his or her identity and address. Newspapers will not give out that information, and will usually only print your name and city should your letter be published.
- Make references to the newspaper. While some papers print general commentary, many will only print letters that refer to a specific article. Here are some examples of easy ways to refer to articles in your opening sentence:
I was disappointed to see that The Daily News May 18 editorial “We Need A Wal-Mart In Our City” omitted some of the key facts in the debate.
I strongly disagree with (author’s name) narrow view on how to best generate economic development…(“Name of Op-Ed,” date)
I am deeply saddened to read that Councilmember Doe cast a vote against the majority of community members. (“Title of Article,” date).
Here are some typical newspaper guidelines for letters to the editor, reprinted from the Naples Daily News:
The Naples Daily News welcomes letters of up to 250 words. The editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, brevity, good taste and accuracy, and to prevent libel. No poetry, attacks on private individuals, or letter-writing campaigns, please. Due to the volume of mail, writers are asked to limit submissions to one letter every two weeks. Include a phone number where you can be reached during the day. For mailed or fax submissions, you must sign the letter.
Note that the above guidelines discourage letter writing campaigns. In general, letter writing campaigns are not advisable because editors are likely to avoid publishing any letter generated this way. In fact, some editors have mistaken widespread interest in an issue as a letter writing campaign!
In general, keep it short, timely and to the point. It should go without saying that letters using profanity or vicious language are rarely published. Consider writing letters of praise on issues as well. Even if you don’t get published, you are helping educate editors and journalists on the issue. Good luck!