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Write Letters to the Editor

How to write a letter to the editor: Your letter to the editor of a newspaper can reach thousands or millions of readers to influence public opinion, expose or praise Congressional voting records, alert the public on key issues, correct media bias, and more.  Most newspapers and news websites accept letters by E-mail and fax.

Length: When writing letters to the editor or calling talk shows, keep your message brief (letters should usually be 200 words or shorter), easily understandable to someone who is not familiar with the issue (avoid or explain any jargon and specialized terminology because most readers won't understand such terms), and stay focused on one subject.

Topics: Letters which respond to a story or commentary in that paper often have the best chance of publication; and if you email it the morning you see the story, the paper may print it the very next day.  You can alert readers about important issues, correct liberal media distortions, and even praise or expose a Congressman's or Senator's vote on an issue in their home state paper!

Take Action: You should take the opportunity to ask readers to take action such as contacting their representatives.

Important note: newspapers, talk shows and other media only want "exclusives," so be sure to send your letter to only one newspaper or show.  While it is easy to send with one click your proposed letter to 40 different papers; 'BCC' or multiple addresses on your email will ensure they won't consider your letter regardless of the importance of the message.  Send just one email to just one newspaper.  Wait a few days and send it to another.  If one paper publishes your letter and you want to send it to another, then rewrite it so it is quite different.  If you do send it to several and one wants to publish it, be sure to tell other papers it got published if they call, and offer to do a re-write for them that is unique--otherwise you may get "blacklisted" for not giving them exclusives.

Verification: Include your home address and daytime/cell phone number because if the paper is interested in printing your letter, they will need to call you to verify you are the writer; that you only sent it to them (remember they want an exclusive in exchange for giving you space on their page); and to discuss any possible edits they plan to make (usually just to shorten it, correct grammar, or make it more concise).

Newspaper Blogs: Many newspapers have blog-style reader forum sections on their websites, where you can instantly post a comment about a particular news article or commentary, usually located at the bottom of the page for each article.  People read these--so use them!  Visit such websites often and add the conservative viewpoint to each article, but stay focused on responding to the issue in the particular article to assure your response won't get deleted for being 'off-topic'.

Op-Eds: An "op-ed" piece is a longer commentary on an interesting or particularly timely, in-the-news subject, usually published on the opposite page from the editorials, hence the name.  Check your paper for the average length and style of the op-eds they do publish, usually no more than 600 words.  Papers prefer op-eds to address hot issues in the news, so write and submit it quickly before the issue becomes "old news."  Email, fax, or hand-deliver it to the paper to save time.  You can write an op-ed in advance on an issue which you know will be a front-page story in coming weeks (such as an expected Congressional vote) so you will have it ready to submit the day it breaks into the news.  Your writing and research should be of high quality for an editor to want to give you this much space on their page.  Being a representative of an organization or having a specialized knowledge of the issue can help win the publishing game.  Include a brief bio with your op-ed.  Getting a well known person to agree to submit it in their name can increase the chances of publishing as well.

Read the Rules: Check the paper's website, or call/email to get their rules regarding letters to the editor and op-eds, such as the maximum length, how often they will print a letter from the same person, and any editorial suggestions they may have.

Distribution: Once published, use it to further boost your lobbying efforts: send copies to elected officials, talk shows, and anyone else who may be of assistance on your issue.  Post the text or the link to the newspaper's webpage with your letter on blogs and websites.  Save a copy of the web version to your computer as the paper's web page may vanish later.  A letter in print enhances your credibility.

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