10 Ways to Fight Hunger in 10 Days: Way #6 Write a Letter to the Editor

Fired up about hunger in your community? We suggest that you write a letter to your local paper. The goal of getting the newspaper to print your letter is so that your important point will be effectively communicated to the readers.

When you sit down to write your letter, ask yourself: Are you writing on behalf of your school, business, or community, or as an individual? If you are writing in your capacity as representative of another group, you should identify yourself as such. Remember, anyone can write a letter to the editor as an individual, so why shouldn’t you?

Top Ten Tips for Letter Writing

  1. Know Your Audience
    When writing to a local newspaper, you can touch on issues specific to your community.
  2. Make Reference to a Specific Article
    While some papers print general commentary, many will only print letters that refer to a specific article, opinion piece or editorial. Here are some examples of easy ways to refer to articles in your opening sentence:

–          The Post‘s May 18 editorial “Title of Article” omitted some of the key facts in the debate.

–          I strongly agree with [author’s name]’s view on hunger issues

–          The efforts to roll back nutrition programs [“Title of the Article,” date] will harm families and children in Colorado

  1. Follow the Guidelines (and be Brief!)
    Different publications prefer different lengths, if you send a letter that is too long, either it won’t be printed, or edits will be made without your input.
  2. Keep it Simple
    Be conversational, clear and concise. Settle on one main point and state it up front. Explain the thinking behind your point as simply as possible. If you have facts to back-up your opinion, include them.
  3. Personalize Your Message
    The more unique your letter is, the better. It is always best to share a personal story that shows how this issue affects you, your family, or community.
  4. Be Passionate and Polite
    The best letters are written by people who care deeply about the subject matter. While your letter can be critical, it should always be written in a civil tone. Avoid language that is insulting or offensive.
  5. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
    Don’t forget to perform spell check on your letter. If you are not completely confident about the tone or content of your letter, or just want another set of eyes to proof for grammar and typos, send it to me at kmoos@hungerfreecolorado.org to read it and make suggestions. I will be happy to help.
  6. Include Your Contact Information
    When you send in your letter to the editor, you must include your name, address and daytime phone number. Anonymous letters are not as credible as those that are signed, and the large majority of newspapers will not publish them.
  7. Watch for Your Letter
    If your letter is going to be published it will be within the next week (unless you are writing to a news magazine, in which case it should run two or three issues later). Watch for your letter and if it runs, let us know right away. Save the original for yourself and send us a copy by mail or send us a link to it via email.
  1. 10.  Post it to Hunger Free Colorado’s Blog

Was Your Letter posted? Congratulations! We will be sure to post links to it on our social media outlets. It wasn’t included in the paper? No big deal. We still care about your opinion and would love to have you submit it to Hunger Free Colorado’s blog as a guest blogger. Not sure what that means? Feel free to contact me for more information.

 

Adapted from resources from the National Organization for Women and Bread for the World.

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