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How to Write a Letter to the Editor
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2012

The majority of Marylanders know little about the candidates’ environmental records. You can amplify or correct the information that is being published by writing a letter to the editor of your newspaper when you see that environmental issues are not being dealt with completely or accurately.

How to Write a Letter to the Editor

 

The majority of Marylanders know little about the candidates’ environmental records.

You can amplify or correct the information that is being published by writing a letter to the editor of your newspaper when you see that environmental issues are not being dealt with completely or accurately.

Many people read letters to the editor. They are a quick, effective and accessible means of communicating your message to a wide audience. They can be used to correct and clarify facts in a news story, editorial or op-ed piece; oppose or support actions of an official agency; direct attention to a problem; spur news editors to cover an issue that is being overlooked; and urge readers to support your cause or candidate.

Use these hints to improve the chances that your letter will be selected for publication.

 Select a current topic. Newspapers rarely publish letters about topics that are not being covered in the news. Referring to a previously published article or column will increase your letter’s chances of being published.

 Research the guidelines. Most papers limit the length of letters to the editor to 250 words. Stick to your newspaper’s word limit so that an editor does not cut the important points of your letter. Some papers require that all letters be typed; others will only accept e-mail. Often newspapers want your address and phone number so they can verify that you wrote the letter. You can usually find a paper’s guidelines on the “letters” page. If not, call the paper directly or visit its web site.

 Assume nothing. Do not assume that your readers are informed on your topic. Give a concise but informative background before plunging into the main issue. Refer to any newspaper article or editorial by date and title. Also include any relevant credentials that prove you are informed about your topic.

 Be brief. State your position succinctly without eliminating necessary detail. Keep your paragraphs short. Long rambling sentences and digressions will cause people to lose interest quickly. Stick to one subject.

 Maintain composure. It is okay to express outrage, but it should be kept under control. Avoid personal attacks and focus instead on criticizing specific policies or ideas.

 Find a local angle.  Readers are more interested in an issue when they see how it affects their lives and communities. Find a way to show how environmental policies will affect the paper’s readers.

 Avoid form letters. Do not send the same letter to two competing papers in the same circulation area. If you send the same letter to papers in different markets, each should look like an original and be signed individually.                               

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