One great way to bring attention to civil liberty issues in the community is through writing letters to the editors of your local newspapers. Getting a letter published in this section accomplishes a few things:
- It ensures that the issue or viewpoint in question reaches a wide audience; the "Letters to the Editor" section is one of the most widely read sections.
- It allows you to share a viewpoint or an issue with the audience that may have either not been covered in the newspaper or may have been covered differently than it should have been. A letter to the editor could also serve as a good way to add in a point or provide a different way to think about a topic.
- It furthers the perception that the topic in question is important to the public and deserves more attention from the newpaper in the future. It can also further the perception that an issue is supported or opposed by the public.
- It increases the chance that other difference-makers in the community are aware of the issue. Elected officials are particularly noted for their sensitivity to letters to the editor.
Tips for Writing a Letter to the editor
CC Image Courtesy of NS Newsflash on Flickr
- Keep your letter within the guidlines. Newspapers generally provide requirements for any letters to the editor. Often times these guidelines include a word limit and sometimes require you to reference a previously published article. Ignoring these guidelines will greatly reduce the chance that your letter is published.
- Type your letter. This will guarantee that your letter is legible. Also, double space your letter so it is as easy to read as possible (length limits are word-based and not page-based).
- Get to the point. When writing a letter to the editor, not only do you have to stay within a word limit, but your letter has to grab the reader's (and the editor's) attention. The best way to accomplish this is to dive right into the topic and not waste words. You should get to your main points within a few paragraphs.
- Proofread before sending. Make sure that your writing is clear and gramatically sound.
- Provide your contact information. Newspapers will want to confirm that the letters were written by you and will contact you to do so. Your contact information needs to be accurate.
- Make reference to the newspaper. A great way to get your letter published is to make reference to an article previously published by the newspaper. Some newspapers require this, but for those that do not, it will give the editor another reason to publish your letter.
- Send the letter to more than one newspaper. Although it can be tough to get one letter to comply to the requirements of multiple newspapers (especially if you need to reference articles), the wider net you cast, the more likely it is that your letter will get published. Sending letters to smaller newspapers also increases your chance of publication.