Director of Programs
Letters to the Editor (LTE) are letters submitted and published (although not all letters get published) in the editorial section of your local newspaper. Often when supporters of Women’s Voices for the Earth ask me how to get involved I recommend they submit an LTE. It’s a quick, relatively easy way to raise your voice.
Here’s why LTEs are important:
- Editorial pages are widely read and LTEs help to raise the visibility of an issue you care about.
- Even if your letter doesn’t get published it helps guide newspaper editors to pay attention and report on a topic.
- Policy makers (congressional staffers and state legislators) read LTEs as a way to keep track of public opinion.
Most newspapers accept LTEs online which is the quickest and easiest way to submit your LTE. Go to your newspapers’ home page and look for directions on how to submit an LTE. Sometime instructions are posted on the “contact us” link or directly on the editorial page (also called the opinion page). You can also type “submit an LTE” in the website’s search box.
Don’t feel overwhelmed about the idea of writing an LTE. You don’t have to be a great writer to get yours published and the following tips will help get you started.
Tips for writing an LTE:
- Short and sweet is best. In fact, most newspapers require a word count of 200 words or less.
- In the first paragraph clearly state what issue/problem you are addressing and what the solution is
- Write something personal—have you been personally impacted? How? This will help you connect your message with readers and your target.
- Refer to the legislator or the corporation you are trying to influence by name
- If your LTE gets published send the link to the legislator or corporation you are targeting in your LTE.
Here’s an example of an LTE:
I’m writing in support of Assembly Bill 708, a bill in the California Assembly that will require full ingredient disclosure on cleaning product labels. Unlike food and cosmetics, cleaning product companies do not have to disclose product ingredients. This makes it impossible for people who suffer from fragrance allergies, like me, to avoid ingredients I have a sensitivity to.
Cleaning products companies maintain that the ingredients they use to scent products are trade secrets, but I don’t feel companies should be able to keep ingredients like allergens a secret. AB 708 gives consumers the right to know what ingredients they are being exposed to in cleaning products. Having this information will help me identify what ingredients I’m sensitive to and select alternative products.
AB 708 gives people like me the power of choice. I urge Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin to vote “yes” on this bill.
Now that you have all you need to know to get started on YOUR LTE, search for your local paper online and start writing!