Writing a letter to the editor of a newspaper or magazine is a great way to voice your opinion and to inform other people on an issue you feel strongly about. Most people who read the newspapers read the letters page so you will have a guaranteed readership if published.
The editors contact address is usually listed in the editorial section of a newspaper/ magazine or in the ‘Contact Us’ section of a website. Writing a letter to the editor can be tough work. The plus side is the excitement of seeing your letter in print and getting your opinion out there.
Ready for action
Read through your local media. If there is an article or feature in it that you think was wrong or misrepresented you, then get your pen out. Responding in this way increases your chance of getting published.
Stick to the point
Keep your letter brief and to the point. Focus on the main points you want to get across. Back them up with a few examples or facts. Be clear and cool in how you write. You will gain more respect that way.
Show personal voice
You have to write this letter with your heart as well as your head. Editors are more likely to publish a letter that shows a strong personal opinion. Humour and irony are also effective if they suit the topic. Otherwise, leave out!
Do your homework
Make certain that all your facts and examples are accurate and don’t exaggerate no matter how much you might want to! Credibility is hard to recover if you lose it. Remember the ‘Boy who cried Wolf’ story!
Create a catchy title
Add your own title or headline. Don’t be afraid to change it about until it feels right. Creating a catchy title will help draw more readers to your letter.
Be sure to revise your letter several times and check for spelling, flow and grammar. Sign your letter if sending by letter or post. Add your phone number and a good time to call also, in case the editor needs to clear something with you before publishing
Don’t give up!
If you open the newspaper to find your letter has not been published, don’t be discouraged. It happens to the best of us! Determination is an important ingredient of any campaign so write another letter when you get the opportunity. You can use parts of the previous letter if it is still relevant.
Sample letter to the editor
Sea View Cottage,
March 11th 2013
To the Editor:
Lack of Proper Recycling Facilities
My name is Sarah Gallagher and I am a third year student. I am writing a letter in response to the article ‘Minister Launches New Recycling Facilities’ article which was in your paper on (cite the date the article was printed). I am concerned about the environment and recently joined a Green Action Group in my local secondary school.
While I was glad to hear of the new facilities in my area, I am annoyed that they are situated beside the local dump. This is over seven miles from where I live and almost two miles from the nearest village of Ballintra. It cost 75,000 Euro to develop the facilities but how much was spent on promoting their use locally? I asked some of my neighbours about the new recycling centre and many of them hadn’t a clue what I was talking about!
I and my friends have recently started encouraging our families to start recycling and we now separate cardboard, paper, plastic bottles, tins and glass from our household waste. The major problem is that none of us have a car. There is no public transport or recycling collection service in our area, so we rely on our parents to drive us out to use the facilities when they can manage the time.
I think the solution would be to have the recycling facilities in a nearby town or village. That way, people would become more aware of the services and could use them while doing their shopping or business. This would also cut down on car miles and further help protect our environment.
Note: If you are sending your letter via email, you will be asked to give your postal address and mobile number. This is to verify that you really do exist and that you did in fact write the letter.