LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Photo Credit: Paxson Woelber

Writing a letter to the editor (LTE) to your local or regional newspaper is an effective and easy way to reach a large audience with your message. LTEs are published on the editorial page, which is one of the most read sections in the paper. Congressional staffers also tell us that members of Congress keep a close eye on media coverage, including LTEs in their local papers, so they can keep a 'pulse' on issues of importance to their constituents.

ACT NOW: Write an LTE about public lands selloffs during the COVID-19 crisis

Talking points for your letter:

  • COVID-19 has thrown normal working and living conditions across the globe into chaos. Yet, the Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency are moving forward with over 160 open comment periods that involve selling off our public lands to industry.
  • These new circumstances impair our ability to conduct our daily routines and we are not able to weigh in effectively on federal government actions affecting our public lands that we care deeply about.
  • From the beginning, the Trump administration has set out to rush the process to open our Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development, depriving federal and climate scientists, the Gwich’in people, and the American public the opportunity to meaningfully contribute.
  • And now due to the emerging health crisis in the United States and beyond, and the recent executive order declaring a state of national emergency, it is unconscionable that the Trump administration is pushing ahead with oil and gas lease sales or other projects of national significance on our public lands.
  • The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are extensive, and with so many contributing to the response, upending their lives, ill or caring for the ill, and unable to comment on federal actions or work normally, there is no way to ensure adequate public engagement in federal agency actions.
  • As agencies tasked with protecting our nation’s public health, environment, wildlife, natural and cultural resources, and more, we request your understanding at this time and willingness to pause agency rulemakings and other issues requiring public comment periods.

Follow these tips:

  1. Respond to an article in the paper. The best letters are those that are in response to an article that ran in the paper, and many papers require that you reference the specific article. Begin your letter by citing the original story by name, date and author. Some papers do occasionally print LTEs noting a lack of coverage on a specific issue — If this is the case, begin your LTE by stating your concern that the paper hasn't focused on this important issue.
  2. Follow the paper’s directions. Information on how and to whom to submit a letter-to-the-editor is usually found right on the letters page in your paper. Follow these guidelines to increase the likelihood that your letter will be printed.
  3. Share your expertise. If you have relevant qualifications to the topic you're addressing be sure to include that in your letter.
  4. Refer to the legislator or corporation you are trying to influence by name. If your letter includes a legislator’s name, in almost all cases staff will give him or her the letter to read personally.
  5. Write the letter in your own words. Editors want letters in their papers to be original. Feel free to use our messaging tips, but also take the time to write the letter in your own words.
  6. Keep your letter short, focused and interesting. In general, letters should be under 200 words — often 150 or less is best. Stay focused on one (or, at the most, two) main point(s) and get to the main point in the first two sentences. If possible, include interesting facts, relevant personal experience and any local connections to the issue. If your letter is longer than 200 words, it will likely be edited or not printed.
  7. Include your contact information. Be sure to include your name, address and a daytime phone number; the paper will contact you before printing your letter.

Guidance for further tips.

Questions?

If you are interested in writing and submitting an LTE or have a question, contact Lois (at) AlaskaWild.org. If you send in an LTE, we'd love to hear about it so that we can keep an eye out for it. Or better yet, let us know when you get published!