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Why Do We Write Letters to the Editor?

Posted on November 18, 2021

Do you want to express your values and concerns to capture the attention of members of Congress? One of the most effective ways to make your voice heard is to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. 

Letters to the editor are an excellent way to obtain the attention of lawmakers. You can write a short, yet informative, letter to the editor that has the potential to reach a large audience, including numerous influential elected officials who have the ability to enact change. 

Why Elected Officials Care About Letters to the Editor

When a letter to the editor is published, your voice reaches numerous people, including lawmakers. Every morning, members of Congress read those compiled news stories that mention their name, including published letters to the editor. As a result, elected officials will read and discuss the letter and its current position in society. 

Another vital reason lawmakers care about letters to the editor is because newspaper editors also read these letters. Elected officials want to be on newspaper editors’ positive side, as their articles throughout campaign season can make a huge difference for candidates. 

How to Write a Concise, Yet Powerful Letter

When writing your letter to the editor, it is vital to focus on a single subject and address it concisely. You should focus on an issue you are passionate about; you can tell a personal story, or just state your opinion, utilizing evidence to support it. 

Your letter to the editor should be around 200 words or less – this will allow readers, including members of Congress, to understand your point clearly and quickly. You should address elected officials directly, expressing your concerns or support towards their actions. 

An Example Letter 

Recently, Richard Segan and Sarah Pascarella, volunteers at Swing Blue Alliance, had their Letter to the Editor urging action on voting rights published in the Boston Globe: GOP is waging an assault on free and fair elections. This is a prime example of an effective letter to the editor. Segan and Pascarella concisely discuss voting rights, calling out their concerns with Senator McConnell within the article. Sloan Sable, a Swing Blue Alliance volunteer, had her letter published as well in the article. Sable’s letter discusses voting rights as well, utilizing a personal experience to strengthen her points. 

More Resources for Writing Effective Letters to the Editor

There are several helpful websites that can empower you and your groups to write impactful letters to the editor. 

  • Common Cause supplies templates to write letters to your local newspaper. You can input your zip code, and Common Cause will locate your local newspapers for you. 
  • Both Indivisible and the ACLU  discuss important strategies for writing letters to the editor, such as how to write and submit your letter. 
  • Finally, you can see examples of letters on the Declaration of for American Democracy website in the Letters of Support section.

Write Your Letter!

Whether it’s defending voting rights, expressing support for a particular candidate, or other cause important to you, a letter to the editor is a vital way to express your opinion to large audiences and get the attention of elected officials. It’s a quick and simple way to make a big impact. Take a few minutes to write your letter today!  

Get started

Kiran Houri is a Fall 2021 Swing Blue Alliance Intern studying International Relations at Tufts University.