Write a Letter to the Editor
Many newspapers publish “letters to the editor.” Each paper has its own guidelines regarding the maximum length of the letter they will publish.
Newspapers prefer to print letters that relate to current news. Compose and submit your letter within a day or two of the news or headline that you’re responding to. If you’re responding to a feature that wasn’t particularly time-sensitive in nature, submitting a letter within a week can be okay. But sooner is better, and within a day of publication is best.
State Your Point Early
Be sure to state your main point in the subject line and in the first sentence of the letter.
Stick to one topic and keep it short!
Letters exceeding the newspaper’s word limit won’t get published. Don’t submit a longer letter in the hopes “they’ll cut something out” to make it the proper length. Letters that are half of the maximum length are more likely to get published.
Think about your audience
What does your audience care about and how might they react? Don’t rant — clearly state the solutions or actions you desire.
Edit and edit again
Figure out how to say the same thing with fewer words. Distill your points into their essence. With judicious and aggressive editing, you can generally cut your first draft to about half of its original length. Make it easy for the paper to choose your letter out of dozens they receive by submitting a letter that they don’t need to edit.
VERY IMPORTANT: include your full name, address and daytime telephone number. Most newspapers will only print a letter to the editor after calling the author to verify his or her identity and address. Newspapers will not give out that information and will usually only print your name and city should your letter be published.
One final note: these things are hit or miss, and you might get unlucky if a big tragedy or scandal hits the news that pre-empts all other topics. But following the above guidelines will greatly improve your chances of getting published.
Guidelines Courtesy of BayRail Alliance
Print media contacts
Page last updated: June 30, 2016
Page last reviewed: June 30, 2016