Writing Your Letter to the Editor

What is a Letter to the Editor?

Addressed to the editor of a publication, a Letter to the Editor (LTE) responds to an article published by the publication, addressing an issue of concern for its readers. LTEs are published on the editorial page, one of the most widely-read sections of a newspaper—not only by community members, but also by local and state policymakers looking to gauge their constituents’ interest in or opinions about an issue. Even if it doesn’t get published, every letter can have an influence on the columns and opinions the publication’s editorial board writes and on other LTEs they do choose to publish. The more letters an editor receives on a given topic, the more likely they are to dedicate space to that issue.

The more letters an editor receives on a given topic, the more likely they are to dedicate space to that issue.

Tips for Writing Your Letter

  • Be Timely Your LTE should respond to an article about the 2020 Presidential Election that your local newspaper or publication has already published. Identify a relevant article, cite it in your letter and be sure to submit the letter within 1-3 days of the article’s publication.
  • Keep it Short Newspapers typically have a word limit of between 250 and 300 words for LTEs. Our sample letter is 225 words, giving you room to customize.
  • Make it Local Your neighbors should be able to identify with your letter. Include a specific example of how your cooperative is impacting your local community.
  • Be Personal Including a personal story or anecdote about your cooperative will make your LTE more powerful and persuasive.

Submitting Your Letter

Check your newspaper or publication’s opinion page and follow the submission guidelines. Use online submission forms wherever available; otherwise, submit your letter via email. Make sure your subject line is “To the Editor” and be sure to identify yourself and include your address, email and phone number in case the editor needs to contact you. Don’t worry—your contact information will not be published.

Sample Letter Template

Download the sample LTE, or copy the below text. Follow the prompts to customize your letter. 

[Name of Outlet or Publication]
Attn: [Editor of Publication]
[Address]
[City, State, ZIP]

 

Dear Editor:

 

With the 2020 Presidential Election on the horizon, Americans are eager for a renewed debate around the issues they care about. Despite low unemployment, many Americans still feel excluded from economic growth and uncertain about their futures. They face growing inequality, flat wages and heightened vulnerability due to climate change.

 

As democratically governed businesses owned by the people who use them, cooperatives—or co-ops—have the best interests of their members in mind. They are a trusted, proven way to empower people in their businesses and communities. My cooperative, [Name of co-op] in [City] is [Specific economic contribution/Personal anecdote].

 

The 65,000 co-op establishments nationwide are each contributing to sustainable, inclusive economic development. They are an integral part of rising to meet challenges that range from rural connectivity and clean energy to affordable housing and food access.

 

Co-ops should be on the policy platform of every presidential candidate. And they should appear in articles that report on the 2020 Presidential Election, like the one you published on [Date] called, [Title].

 

In a recent open letter, we asked candidates running for president to recognize the cooperative business model as a tool for the economic success and self-determination of their constituents. Already, we are in conversations with six campaigns. We urge you to publish this letter. As you frame the political issues at play during this election, the voting public deserves to know that co-ops are a powerful policy solution.

 

Sincerely,

 

[Your Name]
[Your Title, Your Cooperative or Organization]
[Your Address, City, State, ZIP]
[You Email Address, Phone Number]