Writing a letter to the editor

Why write a letter to the editor?

Letters are often the most read section of the newspaper, and political representatives and their aides monitor letters to understand what concerns their constituents.

By writing a letter you also inform the newspaper about what issues are important to readers. The more we submit letters about climate change, the more we send a clear message that we want this issue covered in the news. We also educate and inform the public about climate change and solutions.

Tips

Here are a few tips to help you improve your chances of getting printed:

  • Check the paper to see if there is a word limit. Typically, the shorter the better (under 100 words), but some papers may print longer letters.
  • Be respectful in your communication.
  • Know who you are pitching to. Is it a national or local viewpoint you are appealing to? Make a local connection if you can for your local newspapers.
  • Avoid the overuse of flowery language and metaphors. Newspapers want news not poetry.
  • Start the writing process by asking yourself: What is my message and how does that relate to the article that was in the paper? Opening: In your very first sentence, cite the article that you are responding to. Transition to message: You don’t have much space, so transition quickly to your message. Start by stating the problem or issue of concern. Propose a solution: This is the meat of your message. It’s always a good idea to propose a solution. Closing the letter: Finish up strong either by referring back to the beginning of the letter (closing the circle) or with something punchy.
  • Avoid trying to say everything in one letter. There’s no room for it and it muddies the message.
  • If you can mention For our Grandchildren in your letter, in reference to an event or campaign please do!
  • Remember to include your full name, mailing address and phone number(s) so the paper can verify that you are a real person. If they publish your letter, they will include just your name and city. Note: newspapers don’t often call you before printing your letter. Check the paper in the days following your submission to see if they printed it.
  • Please notify For our Grandchildren if your letter is published. We would love to read it and post it on our website.

View an example of a letter ForOurGrandchildren.ca sent to the editor of a newspaper which was published in the Edmonton Journal.

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