Write a Letter to the Editor

Write a Letter to the Editor

A letter to the editor giving your opinion and calling on your lawmakers to take action can change their mind. This is one of the best ways to get the attention of your representatives and personalize an issue to bring it close to home.

Step 1 | Find your paper

The most effective letters to the editor are written in the local, hometown papers. This is where your congressperson's staff is looking to figure out what their constituents think -- not the New York Times or Washington Post.

Find the website for your local newspaper or online news service (county dailies, a local weekly, community magazine/paper) and find their letter to editor page.

Determine what restrictions they have for letter submissions (word count, information about you, connection to a previous news story, etc.)
Choose one. It's best to only submit a letter to one paper, most local papers won't publish it a letter sent to multiple outlets.

Step 2 | Write your letter

The letter should come from you, and be written in your own voice. Keeping the word count and other restrictions from your chosen paper in mind, write your letter including your own words answering these questions.

Who are you?
It’s important for you to frame why you as an individual, care about this issue. What’s your stake in this? Maybe it’s your family, your profession, your values.
ex. As a eighth-grade teacher, when I teach my students about democracy, I teach them that their voice matters.

Why now?
What’s the hook in the news? Has there been energy on this issue lately? Is there a deadline coming up?
ex. There is a fast-moving proposal in Congress that would throw our entire system of government out of balance -- and force cuts in vital programs like Social Security.

Include some details!
Even though you want to keep the letter short, you want to make your point with a little bit of detail. You can find these details on Common Cause action pages on the issue, on emails we have sent you, or email me at ibronstein@commoncause.org and I can help you find them.

Why does it matter?
What is the impact of this on your community, what will happen if it goes the other way?
ex. This would upend our constitutional system of government and hurt working families in our community.

What do you want?
Be specific. Call on your legislator by name and demand they protect and support the Mueller investigation.
ex. Rep. Smith must vote NO on an Balanced Budget Amendment proposals.

Step 3 | Submit your letter (and follow up!)

Go back to the instructions for writing your letter. Some papers will have online forms, some will ask you to email them to an editor. Read your letter over twice to make sure you like it. Then, follow the instructions and submit your letter.

Then, call the paper and ask for the editorial desk or whomever processes Letters to the Editor.
Just say: "Hi my name is ______, and I submitted a letter to the editor today. Can you check to make sure you received my letter? Thanks so much!

Step 4 | Reach out to us

We want to know what our members are doing in their communities to make a difference. Send an email to ibronstein@commoncause.org with the subject line "Letter To Editor" to let us know about your letter, especially if it gets published!

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