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Letters to the editor

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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Letters to the editor are usually written in response to a specific article that has appeared in a newspaper or magazine. Such letters can be used to highlight aspects of the campaign, correct any misconceptions or errors in the article, and reinforce key messages.

It is important to note that how or whether letters are accepted is very much determined by the media outlet, and can vary widely from outlet to outlet, and country to country. Ensure that you follow the instructions given by the media outlet for how to submit letters (e.g. only by email, etc).

Practical Instructions 

The Center for Reproductive Rights Advocacy Guide (2003, adapted) recommends:

  • Letters to the editor are usually printed no more than two or three days after the article appeared in the paper. So write the letter and send it quickly.
  • Make the letter no more than approximately 200 words long. Be succinct.
  • Refer to the exact date and title of the article you react to, possibly in the first sentence of your letter.
  • If the letter is coming from your group, use paper with your organization’s logo on it. If it is coming just from you, use plain paper.
  • You can organize a letter writing campaign in response to an article related to your campaign issue. When print media receive large numbers of letters, they are more likely to publish one or two of them.
  • Include your name, title and the name of your alliance or organization on the bottom of the page.
  • Make sure your facts and numbers are correct.
  • Letters that are typed stand the best chance of getting printed.
  • Make your point without being negative or attacking.
  • If your letter doesn’t get printed, keep trying with other letters when important articles appear.