Tips for Writing a Letter-to-the-Editor (LTE)
Are you fired up about something you’ve read or want to add your two cents to a good story? Here are a few tips to help you write a successful LTE:
- Don’t be intimidated by writing a Letter to the Editor, anyone can write a LTE-you have a right to have your voice heard!
- LTEs can be rather informal. While you’re writing, imagine you’re writing to a friend expressing your concerns or opinions, wording doesn’t have to be perfect, LTEs will be edited before they are published.
- Keep it short. Around 200 words is sufficient, most newspapers won’t allow more than that. (200 words=around ½ page single-spaced)
- LTEs should come from the heart! Don't worry as much about facts and figures. Explain how you feel and why. LTEs are supposed to come from a person (usually, an upset or excited person), not from a page of talking points.
- State your opinion or reaction and reasons why you think the way you do-try not to tackle too many ideas within your LTE, keep it clear and concise.
- To help get started research the issue or cause to help find some wording or key terms to help get your point across. Google search is always a great option, or re-read some newspaper articles that pertain to your issue.
Don’t forget…LTEs work! Lawmakers pay attention to the concerns of their constituents, especially in local newspapers that are seen by so many people. LTEs are a great way to get your voice heard.
Here are some great local newspapers to send your LTE:
Wisconsin State Journal: http://host.madison.com/ct/opinion/mailbag/ (scroll to the bottom of the page to find LTE submission box)
Journal Sentinel: http://www.jsonline.com/news/30627794.html
And don’t forget other local newspapers! (Ex. Appleton Post Crescent, Fond du Lac Reporter, Eau calire Leader Telegram, Sheboygan Press, Green Bay Press Gazette) Often, local papers affect decision-makers more than state-wide or national papers.
Here are some sample LTEs:
Tell your Personal Story: by David Diehl “EPA needs to set better standards to protect our communities”
In honor of the Packers making it to the Super Bowl, I took a trip to Green Bay and toured Lambeau Field. Of course, I was impressed beyond belief, but I was shocked by something as well. While taking the trip, I discovered that down the street from the field is a (or maybe more than one) giant coal plant. The black steam coming from the plant was more than disturbing. One of the main causes of asthma and other respiratory diseases is next door to some of the most important athletes in Wisconsin. Luckily, the EPA has said they will regulate particulate matter, one of the main pollutants that cause lung illness, this year. Hopefully, the EPA will set standards that protect the communities around the coal plants, and the athletes in them as well. If so, maybe we can make it to the Super Bowl with healthy athletes for years to come.
Tell your Feelings: by Amanda Jaron "Law allowing wetland destruction outrageous"
Feb. 2 was World Wetlands Day -- the same day the Wisconsin Legislature passed a bill to destroy wetlands and lure Bass Pro Shop to build on that land, even though the company refuses. There is no reason why this bill should have been passed -- not only was it a waste of taxpayer money, but also a waste of valuable time for state legislators.
Bass Pro Shop issued a statement stating that the company does not favor building a store where wetlands are present. Hearing this, I am left wondering how a for-profit company could refuse easy profits while our legislators won’t budge.
This bill, signed into law Feb. 4 by the governor, is outrageous not only because it destroys the environment, but because there is a very easy solution to the issue. As my representative, Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, wrote in a letter to Bass Pro Shop, the development could be moved just 40 feet to avoid destroying wetlands.
Obviously this bill was not in the state’s interest and controversy could have easily been avoided. Who is benefiting from it -- perhaps a high-paying campaign donor and business developer, John Bergstrom?
I applaud Bass Pro Shop for staying true to their ethics. I hope we can put some pressure on our legislators to make more ethical decisions in the future and do what is right for all of their constituents.