Writing a Letter to the Editor

  • Visit the publication’s website to see what kind of letters they print and to read their requirements for letters. These vary from publication to publication.
  • Most publications put a cap on length, and some are pretty short. Keep it to 250-300 words. If you can’t, ask about whether they print guest opinion pieces (known as op-eds). Again, information should be on the website.
  • Do not use incendiary language or profanity. We know it can be tempting, but we need tostay above the fray.
  • Try to insert a local connection — perhaps a statistic, or whether a local legislator supports or rejects your opinion, or someone who is impacted. While we mustn’t say our lawmaker is a jerk, we can point out errors in policy and then back up our opinion with facts. (Although Congress members, such as NC 11’s Rep. Chuck Edwards, believes business owners should be able to decide what their employees are worth, and that the free market will keep wages current, statistics do not bear that out. … followed by statistics and facts.)
  • If you’re writing to state an agreement with the principles of Poor People’s Campaign, mention that in the letter. (As a member of the Poor People’s Campaign, I believe everyone who works should make enough to pay their bills.)
  • We are not a political group, we are a movement whose attention is on policy, not party, so please leave partisanship out of it. (We want a living wage, and we don’t care which party makes it happen.)
  • Don’t wait to write your letter. It could change someone’s mind on an important issue. If a vote is approaching, write that letter soon enough so it can be published before the vote. If your letter is about the result of a vote, don’t give people time to forget.


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