Speak Out With A Letter To The Editor

By Alison Heath

Writing a letter to your newspaper's editor is a privilege that Americans have exercised since the early days of journalism. You'll be surprised to know that even one person's opinion counts. Here a few things to keep in mind to give you a better chance at getting your letter published.

Don't write an epic of a letter. Most newspapers and ezines put limitations on the number of words you can write. Generally, 200 words or less is common although some newspapers allow for up to 300 words. If you just can't fit your words to this limit, then you might want to consider sending an op-ed piece to the editor.

Libel should not be a part of your letter. You're free to criticize and express your opinion, but you can't libel anyone. Your letter will never be published if you make things up about someone. There is a limit to free speech.

You should not plagiarize. An editorial staff can probably recognize plagiarism in an instant. Speak from your heart, don't quote others unless you are responding specifically to an article or previously submitted letter to the editor.

Show good taste. This is difficult to do. People can have different interpretations of your words. You should make sure you use the right language if you want your letter to be published.

You don't have to agree with the newspaper or ezine's policy regarding letters to the editor. But you'd want to look over the guidelines as much ad possible if you really want your letter published.

Please note that you will be required to submit your name, address, and city as well as your phone contact information too. There are editors that will require your name to be shown when they publish your letter. So, think carefully about what you want to have printed as misused verbiage can come back to haunt you later on.

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