How to Write a Letter to the Editor

     When writing a letter to the editor, first, you must choose a topic. It should be a current issue. Don’t harp on something that has been decided months ago. Choose topics that are interesting and relevant to many people. Letters on obscure topics have limited impact. Don’t shy away from controversial topics. But avoid hackneyed topics like abortion, the Iraq War or "the media's effect on body image".
     Next, write your letter. Keep it short and simple. As a policy, many newspapers don’t accept letters that exceeds 200 words. So, make your point and get to it quickly. Be sincere. If you have a strong conviction in your opinion, readers will sense it. Research your topic thoroughly. Support your argument with facts and evidence. Make sure your solutions are logical and practical. Have a catchy beginning and a strong ending. Proofread your letter and have someone else proofread it. If your letter is sloppy, incoherent or contains grammatical errors, it will not be published.
     At the end of your letter, be sure to include you name, address, e-mail and phone number. Newspapers need this info in order to verify that you actually sent the letter. They will publish only your name and town. Do not ask to be anonymous – your letter probably won’t get published.
     Finally, select a newspaper to submit your letter to. Student newspapers frequently publish letters from students. Many writers have also had success in getting their letter published by local newspapers. Consider submitting it to a local weekly newspaper that covers your hometown or school. For example, if you attend Adelphi University in Garden City, Long Island, submit it to Garden City Life, Garden City News or Garden City Patch. If you’re from Jackson , N.J. , send it to the Jackson Times. I would avoid large national newspapers, such as The New York Times, because they receive several hundred letters to the editor every day and publish only a handful. The chances they'll publish your letter are slim.
     When sending your op-ed, e-mail – don’t snail mail or fax – your letter. Almost every publication nowadays accepts letters via e-mail. You can find the appropriate e-mail address either by visiting the newspaper’s website or calling them up and asking for it.    Here are a few:
          Garden City News:
          Garden City Life:
          Garden City Patch:
     In the “To:” box, type in the e-mail address for sending letters to the editor. In your subject heading, simply write “Letter to the editor.” Cut and paste the text of your letter inside your e-mail – do not attach it as a file! Attachments get deleted for fear that they may contain a computer virus. Make sure your name and contact info is at the bottom of the e-mail. Do not write anything else in the e-mail, such as “Here’s my letter to the editor.” 
     Newspapers often contact writers before publishing their letters. But that's not always the case. So, be sure to read the newspaper's "Letters to the Editor" section during the couple weeks following your submission. If your letter is selected, it will most likely be published within the first couple weeks.


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