The Voices section of the U-Act website encourages U-Act members to extend their activism to the public sphere through letter writing. Letters to the editor are one of the most widely read areas of a paper. You can help to shape opinion in your community. This page will print all letters by U-Act members that have been published in various media. Further, the comment function after each letter allows you to add your own views or enlarge on the subjects discussed. Voices gives you the opportunity to engage in conversation—to learn from and teach others.
Writing Letters to the Editor
Many newspapers set a limit of 200-250 words for a letter to the editor (exception: New Paltz Times). Check the guidelines for the paper. A letter, then, is an exercise in conciseness and focus. Here are a few tips:
- Cut background material to your issue unless it is essential; assume your reader has knowledge of basic facts.
- If paper guidelines require that your letter be a response to a previously printed article, e.g., NY Times, include the date and title of that article
- You can include a title, but the editor will often change it to highlight what he/she wants to emphasize.
- Some papers will not allow language that directly addresses a person, e.g., “President Trump, what do you think will happen when you . . . “ You can edit yourself to phrase more broadly, not personally.
- Generally, your letter will capture an editor’s interest if it offers a different or unusual perspective. Framing an issue with a metaphor or analogy can be effective. Satire works subversively, and it can disarm the online trolls.
- A paper might not print your letter if it is a call to action, e.g., “Those who support the Hudson River will be meeting next week . . . “
- Papers generally will limit you to one letter per month in order, they say, to accommodate a range of community voices.
- Getting your letter published in the Poughkeepsie Journal can increase its exposure to the broader public. The PJ is part of the Gannett and USA Today networks, so you might find your letter appearing in a paper in other states, especially if your issue touches on a national concern.
When your letter has been published, send the text to R. Crovisier, along with the name and date of the publication.
Local Newspapers and Contact Information