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Writing a Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Other than the front page, the letters to the editor section is the most read part of your local newspaper. Legislators pay close attention to letters, particularly if their names are mentioned. When you write your letter to the editor, keep in mind the following suggestions:

  • Keep your letter short. 250 words is the recommended length for most publications. Periodicals have a limited space and often receive more letters than they can possibly publish. If there is less editing for the editor it is more likely your letter will appear.
  • Get to the point. Letters should always state the specific issue, and what action should be taken. Include the name and/or number of the bill you are commenting on. Mention the name of your legislator(s) and what action you would like them to take.
  • Write in simple language. Many newspapers have the motto "the readers of this newspaper move their lips as they read". They are looking for letters that are understandable by a variety of educational levels and writing an intelligible letter need not be complicated. Do not be afraid to address sophisticated subjects, just remember a "ball is a ball as well as a sphere."
  • Be sure to be credible. If you use a statistic, cite your resource.
  • Be Timely. Periodicals that are published on a daily basis such as newspapers treat news as new for only a short time. Editorials will be printed if they are current and reflect what will be happening in the near future.
  • If you send via snail mail, sign your letter. Newspapers will not publish your letter without a signature, although you may request that your name be kept anonymous. In considering this option remember that letters that are anonymous are often not considered credible. Include in your signature your residence and telephone number. For e-mails, make sure also to include your name and day telephone number.
  • Send a copy of your letter to the New York State Council of Churches' office.
  • Send a copy of your letter to your legislators. They will appreciate knowing you have contacted your local media. Elected officials follow closely what is in their local media and will appreciate staying informed.  
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