Write a Letter!
Every person concerned about freedom, taxes, limited government and good governance in Illinois should make an effort to write an occasional letter to the editor.
Quite simply writing an letter to the editor is one of the most effective ways an average citizen can help shape the public policy debate in their community. Letters to the editor reach 1,000's of persuadable readers and elected officials.
Below are tips that will help Illinois citizens become more effective letter to the editor writers and increase their chances of getting published.
List of Illinois papers & letter to the editor submission info.
Letter to the Editor Publishing Tips
Good luck in getting published!
- Be polite. Don't get a reputation for being a mean, hateful name caller. Don't sink to their level of others. Respect the people you're talking about, even if you disagree with their political position. Comment on actions more than personalities.
- Be specific. If you're commenting on an article in the paper, mention the day and page number of the article. If you're commenting on a specific political position or speech, restate it briefly. Don't assume the reader knows what you're talking about: Tell them.
- Stick to one topic & goal. Deal with one issue, article or speech in one letter. Ask yourself, who is the topic audience and how can I persuade them to my perspective on the issue?
- Use facts and figures to back up your arguments. Quote other experts who commented on the same subject, especially if the news article did not mention them. Feel free to use an Illinois Policy Institute study or policy brief to strengthen your letter.
- The shorter the better. While a word count limit might be 250-300 words if you can get across everything you want to say in 100 words that's even better. Shorter letters can be just as effective and persuasive and the are easier for an editor to place.
- When possible, compare and contrast. State why your candidate or position on an issue is better and why the alternative is not.
- Be concise. Short letters are more likely to be printed than lengthy screeds.
- Be original. Don't sound like everyone else. Use your own voice.
- When appropriate, use humor.
- Be grammatically correct. The paper will correct any minor spelling errors, but they won't edit letters where the sentences make no sense.
- Be positive when appropriate. Don't hesitate to send a complimentary letter to the newspaper for a good editorial or story. Congratulate politicians you agree with.
- Read your letter out loud. Does it sound good? Does it make sense?
- Send the letter to more than one newspaper, if appropriate. Smaller papers print letters too. Be careful in doing this, if two local newspapers print the same letter they get very angry at you and refuse to publish you in the future. Make significant changes for each newspaper you send your letter to.
- Save a copy. Just in case they edit it, you'll know exactly how it was changed.
- Include all the necessary information about yourself that the newspaper asks for. When sending e-mail, this means your city and telephone number. When sending a letter by mail, make sure it's typed (or legible) with your full return address as well as phone number and signature. This is for your protection, so others can't sign your name to their letter.
- Keep track of any response you get. If it's a caller who agrees with you, great! You've made a friend. If someone calls you and doesn't give you their name, hang up. If someone calls and politely disagrees, that's fine: Talk to them, and agree to disagree.
- There are many places to express your opinion, not just letters to the newspaper. There are weekly and monthly magazines. There are Internet web sites, blogs, Usenet newsgroups, and chat rooms. Consider setting up your own blog. Express yourself, in friendly terms, in conversations with friends or in social situations.
- State your qualifications, if useful to the letter. Example: "I've been an accountant for 15 years, and the Governor's plan to borrow our way out of a financial crisis is a poor one because..."