Write a Letter to the Editor of a Newspaper

Letters to the editor are shorter (150-500 words) opinion pieces, like Op-Eds, usually written in response to something published in the newspaper. They are often printed in a “Letters to the Editor” section of the paper. Letters to the Editor provide a means for an individual to express her/his opinion, respond to false or biased information, or have her/his voice heard in a public debate. They are usually relatively easy to get printed and are a good way to keep the public debate focused on your issues when there is no news about women’s issues or you are unable to get an op-ed or editorial printed. This is an ideal advocacy activity for an individual working alone.

How to Write a Letter to the Editor

Be Newsworthy – Make sure the letter is connected to some timely event or issue. For example, you might write a letter commenting on the need for reproductive health services in the health care reform plan when that issue is being hotly debated in Congress. You could connect it to a local health care bill or an event your group is sponsoring, too.
Be Persuasive – This is an opinion piece. Make as persuasive a case as possible for your specific cause. Appeal to the reader’s sense of justice, decency, patriotism, or empathy to make your case. (e.g., talk about the need for an “equitable health care system for all;” how “women should not be treated as second-class citizens when it comes to their health,” etc.)
Use Facts – Support your argument and underscore the need for change with facts.
• Use a Human Interest Angle –Support your message with a personal experience. This will help readers relate your group’s story to their own experiences.
Use Simple Language – Assume that the reader knows nothing about women’s issues.
• Keep It Focused and Concise – Use short words, sentences, and paragraphs.
Make Your Point Up Front – The most important information in the piece should be near the beginning. Editors cut from the bottom when a piece is too long.

Submitting Your Letter
(Letter to the Editor advice from the Atlanta Journal Constitution)
• Letters to the editor should be 150 words. We value the opinions of all our readers, and we must limit the length so that we can publish as many opinions as possible.
• Letters should include a daytime telephone number where we may reach the writer for verification. The number will not be published.
• All letters must include the author’s name and hometown.
• When possible, provide a citation for detailed information you provide.
• While our columnists and reporters are fair game for criticism, the AJC aims not to publish criticism of other letter writers. Stick to issues when possible.
• Proofread letters before submission. We edit for length, clarity, accuracy, and grammar.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution accepts letters via US mail, fax, and email.
FAX: 404.526.5610. EMAIL: [email protected]
MAIL TO: Letters to the Editor P.O. Box 4689 Atlanta, GA 30302
The AJC also accepts letters on the web at http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/letters/sendletter.html

How to Get Your Letter Printed
• Identify Op-Ed Staff – Call local and regional newspapers to find out to whom the piece should be sent (health or op-ed editor for larger newspapers; general editor for smaller ones).
• Send the Piece – Send the piece along with a Press Kit to all identified contacts.
• Include Your Name – Include in your packet a cover letter with your name, address, and phone number. Most newspapers will not print unsigned letters.
• Send Multiple Letters – Have several different people in your group send their own Letters to the Editor. Multiple letters that each focus on a different aspect of women’s issues in health care reform will have a greater impact on readers and will increase the likelihood of getting the letters published.



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