Writing Letters to the Editor
Letters To The Editor
Letters to the editor usually comment on items and editorials in the newspaper, but you can bring up any subject. Since editors hesitate to publish frequent letters from the same person on the same subject, this form of communication is a good way to involve other members of your local union. Writing letters can be a good exercise for activists because it helps focus the issue more clearly in their own minds. Editors are more likely to print letters that are:
- Signed with your name, address, and phone number;
- Contain no more than 250 words;
- Well reasoned and indicate the writer knows the subject (good letters contain numbers and facts, not just opinion); and
- Timely and relate to an ongoing issue in the news or respond to news article or editorial printed no more than a few days before.
Find out who the editors are for your local paper. Follow-up with the editor in a professional manner several days after submitting the letter to make sure s/he received it. Remember, you are a voice for working Americans. Chances are that you have a story that will interest other people.
Guest Columns or Op-eds
Often called "op-eds" because they usually appear on the page opposite the editorial page, these essentially are longer letters to the editor. They can run up to 750 words. Sometimes they are intended to refute an editorial, but they don't have to. Call first and ask if the editorial page editor is interested in seeing your op-ed. The same tips apply here as to letters to the editor - except that since an op-ed is longer, you need:
- A beginning, which identifies the problem in one or two paragraphs;
- A middle, wherein you put forth the reasons (including facts and data) for thinking the way you do and for proposing the solution you recommend; and
- An end, which in one or two paragraphs ties in the points you made in the middle to the problem you identified at the beginning.