A letter to the editor, also called an LTE, is a short letter (usually about 200 words, or about two paragraphs) submitted to a newspaper or online publication. Letters to the editor typically provide an opinion on an issue relevant to the publication and its readers and help to raise awareness. Below are some tips to get you started.
Step by step process:
- Follow what’s happening in the legislature. The most effective LTE’s are written in response to a timely issue or bill that’s moving through the legislature. You can subscribe to Forward Montana’s weekly newsletter, What the Helena, and we will keep you in the loop! If you’re interested in tracking bills on your own, you can do so here.
- Submit to a local publication that you enjoy reading. Readers might be more inclined to listen to you if you’re a member of the local community. Make sure to check on the publication’s specific LTE requirements before you start writing; you can usually find these on the publication’s website.
- Figure out your story. Why do you care about this legislation? What’s your specific take on it? Maybe you’re a college student racking up massive debt, or a renter scrambling to find an affordable place to live. Whatever your reason, make it relatable and compelling.
- Avoid jargon. Maybe you’re a policy genius, but not everyone is. Explain the bill or issue in simple terms. What is the impact it could have on people in your community?
- End with an ask. You’ve fired up your readers — now tell them to get out there and do something! Is there a public hearing coming up where people can comment? Or do you want your readers to call their legislators? Offer to assist people who are new to the process!
- Keep it to the point. Many publications have specific word limits. Stick to these to make sure your letter isn’t edited down!