Writing Letters to the Editor
Advocating to the media and public through Letters to the Editor
Advocacy can go beyond government representatives. Speaking out on issues of concern through initiatives such as letters to the editor can be very useful.
What is it?
A letter to the editor is a short (no more than 150 words) commentary piece on a topical issue and/or an issue that has recently appeared in the newspaper. Letters to the editor are a forum for opinion and not for announcements. The letters page appears in newspapers opposite the editorial page (where the newspaper takes its own positions on public issues). Traditionally, several letters on a variety of topics are included daily. The letters page is the newspaper’s way of giving the general public a direct voice in their news pages.
Why do it?
Letters to the editor are an excellent vehicle for expressing your point of view on a subject, correcting a factual error from a previous news article, or challenging an opinion that you disagree with. While there is no guarantee of publication, several letters are published in newspapers daily. The letters page is well read, particularly by an audience concerned with public policy and important issues.
How to do it?
Letters to the editor are addressed, literally, to the editor of the newspaper you are submitting them to. They should be brief (see above), opinionated but respectful, and have a specific point to make. Each newspaper has information on their specific requirements for letters to the editor and a local email address, fax and/or mailing address. When submitting your letter, remember to include your full name and daytime phone number, as the newspaper will want to confirm you are in fact the author of the letter. It may take a few days from the date you submit your letter to the day it is published in the paper.
Access sample templates of letters to the editor under Template Letters if you would like see some examples.