Letters to the editor are one of the most-read portions of our newspapers. They're "instant activism" a way to turn a passion for your political beliefs, and less than an hour of your time, into something that will truly make a difference. Here are some tips, courtesy of the Women's Vote Center of the Democratic National Committee.
Getting Your Letter Published
Most of us feel strongly about candidates and issues, but also believe we just don’t have the time to put those feelings into action. A good letter to the editor takes about half an hour to write and send, and are read by thousands of people, from high level elected and appointed officials (who take published letters very seriously as an indication of public opinion), to “just plain folks” who share your beliefs, and find hope in your words. Here are some suggestions for getting your letters published.
1. Use your real name. Newspapers will not print anonymous letters, or those from authors they cannot confirm.
2. Include your contact information. Always include day and evening contact information, mailing address, and e-mail address if possible.
3. Don’t delay. The earlier you get your letter to the paper, the better its chances of being selected. Send your letter 24 to 48 hours after the item you’re responding to, and e-mail your letter for fastest delivery.
4. Keep it relevant. Address issues raised in the newspaper you’re targeting. When referring to an article, identify it by its headline and date it was published.
5. Keep it short and simple. Keep letters under 250 words, or about four short paragraphs, and address only one topic per letter. Develop two or three powerful points, and deliver them in short, punchy sentences.
6. Make it original and personal. Use your own experiences when relevant and appropriate, to add a personal, human touch.
7. Use facts and statistics. Emotional rhetoric alone is not enough to make a case; always include facts that back up your argument and educate your readers.
8. Use caution when you criticize. Criticize the ideas expressed by others rather then the individuals themselves, and always offer a constructive opinion rather than just an attack.
9. Don’t send letters to the same paper more than once a month; most papers won’t publish them.
10. Consider alternative media, especially local weeklies and monthlies. In addition to writing letters to your local daily paper, consider writing to local weeklies, magazines that print readers’ letters, or specialized publications. Weeklies and monthlies are especially good, since many local publications don’t have the ability to write much of their own content, and look for submitted material. They also have loyal, local readers, and are kept and used for a longer time than are dailies.
11. E-mail your letter if possible. Letters sent that way are more likely to be published.
Here are some newspapers which publish letters to the editor, and press releases from local Democratic committees. The e-mail addresses below are for letters. Check the newspaper, or its website, to see the correct address for press releases.
Bangor Daily News, serving Bangor and other communities in Central and Northern Maine:email@example.com
Bear Facts, serving Androscoggin and western Kennebec Counties: firstname.lastname@example.org
Biddeford Journal Tribune, serving York County: email@example.com
Brunswick Times Record: firstname.lastname@example.org
Capitol Weekly, serving the Augusta area: email@example.com
The Community Advertiser, serving Winthrop, Monmouth, Readfield, Leeds, Wayne, Fayette, Mt.Vernon, Manchester, and Kents Hill: firstname.lastname@example.org
Turner Publications, producing several monthly newspapers in Kennebec and adjoining counties:email@example.com
Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, serving most of Kennebec County:firstname.lastname@example.org
The Portland Press Herald, serving central and southern Maine:
The Sun Journal, serving Lewiston, Auburn, and nearby communities:
The Town Line, serving eastern Kennebec County: email@example.com