“If you don’t exist in the media, you don’t exist.” -Daniel Schorr, NPR Senior News Analyst
The structure of a letter to the editor of a newspaper is the same as that of a letter to an elected official. Refer to the steps listed in How to Write to Your Elected Official and use the tips below to target your letter to a newspaper.
- Make it relevant: Refer to a current issue in proposed legislation, an upcoming event, or a recent article, op-ed or letter in the newspaper. If you are writing about a particular bill, write its name and number. If you are writing in response to an article, write its title, author and date. Example: I strongly agree with (author’s name) view on foreign assistance. (“Name of Op-Ed,” date) However, there is additional support for his argument.
- Make it concise: Letters should be approximately 250 words and should be type-written and double-spaced when possible. Try to highlight a single aspect of the issue that wasn’t emphasized previously by the newspaper. Keep in mind that your letters may be edited or shortened by the newspaper.
- Make it credible: Many newspapers only print a letter to the editor after calling the author to verify his or her identity and address. Provide your name, address, day and evening telephone numbers. Should the letter be printed, a newspaper will usually include your name and city. Be sure to sign your letter. Example: I was deeply disappointed to read that Congressman (name) is against the Women and Children in Armed Conflict Protection Act, # # # #. (“Title of Article,” date)
- Make it useful: Send a copy of your letter to your elected official to let him or her or her know that you are raising awareness. Or send a copy of the letter that you wrote to your elected official to a national or local newspaper.
- Make it visible: Send your letter to both large and small newspapers. It is also valuable to write to magazines. The more you write the more likely you will be published.