Letters to the Editor (LTE) 

A letter to the editor (LTE) is a short letter to a local newspaper or publication that gives your opinion on an issue or concern and calls on your lawmakers or fellow community members to take action.

Why Write an LTE?

Ever read the morning newspaper and get disturbed about the stance the editor took on a key issue? Or perhaps, you read about a local event you attended, and the article reported incorrect facts about the event? In both examples, a letter to the editor provides an effective and professional way for you to voice your opinion to that newspaper and its readers.  

Writing a letter to the editor also gives your voice a wider audience. Not only will other readers be able to read your letter, but elected officials frequently peruse local newspapers to get a pulse on how the community is reacting to current affairs.

Subject Matter

Letters to the editor may cover a wide range of topics. Pick one clear topic when writing the letter and focus only on that one topic. Topic ideas may cover the following:

  • Addressing misinformation printed in the publication

  • Supporting or opposing an opinion expressed in that publication

  • Requesting balanced reporting on political issues

  • Expressing concern or backing for pending legislation

Helpful Tips

  • An LTE is usually 250 words; some publications ask for 200 or fewer

  • Your goal is to persuade or inform the reader about an issue

  • Back everything up with facts from reputable news sources or research

  • Remember: Your LTE will be scrutinized heavily by the opposition

  • Run your letter through a grammar and spell check review

  • Include your name, address, and daytime phone number

  • Click here for the top 100 online and print publications across the country: https://www.theopedproject.org/submission-information/

  • Click here for local newspapers in your state: https://www.50states.com/news/#.Vo1JQPkrJaQ

  • If your LTE is published, please inform us at activist@actforamerica.org

 

Example of an LTE #1

“Designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization is not anti-Muslim. The Muslim Brotherhood has been designated as a terrorist organization by several Muslim-majority countries, including Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates.

Therefore, designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization cannot be anti-Muslim, as several Muslim-majority countries agree with the policy.”

This abbreviated LTE makes a clear and persuasive argument. To form a compelling argument, an LTE must be based on authenticated evidence. Note that the argument in the sample above is supported by objective, factual evidence – the Muslim Brotherhood has, as a matter of fact, been designated as a terrorist organization.

Example of an LTE #2

“John Smith’s article, ‘Coronavirus – No End in Sight’, intentionally misleads readers to believe that the United States economy will continue in a complete shutdown till mid-September. Larry Kudlow, the Director of the United States National Economic Council, remarked last Tuesday that “in the next four to eight weeks, we will be able to reopen the economy” – the latter date being the week of June 28th. ­­In a time when Americans need hope, Smith, for the third time this month, writes an article that contradicts what the current authorities are saying. Smith extinguishes any flicker of faith we may have left, and I am personally disappointed to see this newspaper condone Smith’s persistent flare for misinformation.”

This LTE tackles an issue of misinformation. The author directly quotes the original speaker, providing a clear counter-argument to the article in question. The author ends the LTE articulating her opinion on the article and her disapproval that the newspaper published the article. Remember, LTE is an opinion piece, so your opinion should be stated in your letter. But as mentioned in the first example, there must be a well-formed argument based on evidence when giving your opinion.