Letters to the editor are a great way to communicate information and viewpoints to the members of your community. The Letters to the Editor section is one of the most popular parts of a newspaper because it represents the views of the average reader and gives the general public a forum to express their opinions and concerns.
When you sit down to write your letter, keep these things in mind:
- Your first goal is to get the newspaper to print your letter.
- Your second goal is to effectively communicate an important point to other readers.
Check your local paper’s Letters to the Editor section or its website for the designated email address
Keep your letter short: 150 words or less
- Include your full name, mailing address, phone number, and email address
We want to bring an end to the crisis in order to protect vital U.S. national security interests in the Middle East, including protecting U.S. allies bordering Syria, deprive Iran of its staunchest ally, and cut its lifeline to Hezbollah, a designated terrorist organization.
Ending the crisis will save lives, and reduce the destabilizing flow of refugees into other countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.
President Obama has stated that if chemical weapons were to be used in Syria, it would constitute a “red line” that would be a “game-changer” and “change [his] calculation” toward intervening to stop the government’s slaughter of civilians in Syria.
Intervention does not require US ground troops. It requires a measured and incremental provision of arms to vetted and moderate troops who are committed to the Geneva Convention, to civilian control, and to post-conflict disarmament.
The international community should establish a humanitarian corridor so Syrian families can get medicine and aid and can sleep without the sound of shelling or fear of molestation.
The international community has the responsibility to protect the Syrian people from the ongoing atrocities and should implement the necessary measures to stop the violence and help topple the regime.
- Over 250,000 people have been killed since the regime’s crackdown on democratic protests began
- About 95% percent of all civilian casualties are due to regime violence
- Over 4 million people have fled Syria and become refugees in neighboring countries
- Over 6.6 million have become internally displaced persons (IDPs), many forced to flee multiple times
For the most up-to-date information, visit the UNHCR's Syria page.
With that in mind, here are some more important tips:
Know Your Audience
Are you writing to a local newspaper? If so, you can touch on issues specific to your state and/or community. If you're writing to a nationally-read newspaper or news magazine, you will need to focus on issues of national importance, unless the specific article you are referring to is about a local event.
Make Reference to a Specific Article
While some papers print general commentary, many will only print letters that refer to a specific article, opinion piece or editorial. Here are some examples of easy ways to refer to articles in your opening sentence:
- The Post's May 18 editorial "Islamists Fight Alawites in Syria" omitted some of the key facts in the debate.
- I strongly agree with [author's name]'s view on US foreign policy in Syria.
Keep it Brief
Different publications prefer different lengths, but the maximum length for most letters is 200 words — which is remarkably short. The best thing to do is read the letters section of your paper before you start. This will give you an idea of how long your letter should be, and what kinds of letters your paper typically publishes. If you're still not sure about length, call your paper's letters to the editor office or visit their web site. Remember, if you send a letter that is too long, either it won't be printed, or edits will be made without your input (and you might not like them!)
Make it Simple
Be conversational, clear and concise. Settle on one main point and make it right away. Explain the thinking behind your point as simply as possible. If you have facts to back-up your opinion, include them. Just make sure you get your facts from a reliable source.
Personalize Your Message
Editors receive numerous letters every day. If you really want yours to stand out, make sure that it is not copied word-for-word from a form letter. If you have a personal story that shows how this issue affects you and/or your family, share it — briefly.
While your letter can be critical of the newspaper or author for misleading readers or omitting important facts, it should always be written in a civil tone. Papers will not publish insulting or offensive letters.
Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
Don't forget to perform spell check on your letter. If you are not completely confident about the tone or content of your letter, have a friend read it and make suggestions. You should always read through your letter one last time for typos before sending it off.
Include Your Contact Information
When you send in your letter to the editor, you must include your name, address and daytime phone number. Your name is needed because anonymous letters are not as credible as those that are signed, and the large majority of newspapers will not publish them. Your address is important because papers prefer to print letters from local readers, and it lends credibility. Also, include your phone number because most newspapers will only print your letter once they have called and verified that you are, in fact, the writer.
Watch for Your Letter
If your letter is going to be published it will be within the next week (unless you are writing to a news magazine, in which case it should run two or three issues later). Watch for your letter and if it runs, let us know right away. Save the original for yourself and send us a copy by mail or send a link via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.