Why Write LTEs?
• Educate the community about Gerrymandering
• Raise interest in our chapter & attract volunteers and speaking invitations
• Alert news editors to “newsworthiness” of this issue. Large number of letters helps.
• Get attention of elected officials
The News Hierarchy: newspapers are most likely to publish letters related to items published in Dallas Morning News, in this order:
• Front page stories
• Staff-written columns (newspaper’s own columnists)
• Locally-written op-eds
• Editorial cartoons
• Syndicated columns
• Other letters to the editor
Letter to the Editor Formula
• Dallas Morning Nred https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/2018/12/02/submit-a-letter-to-the-editor/ requires that your LTE be under 200 words. 100 is better.
• In the opening of your letter, reference the story or opinion piece that you’re responding to. (DMN has a field for it at the top of the LTE submission form.)
• Thank DMN for printing the piece you are responding to
• Transition into how the story relates to how we are governed
• Identify our solution: a constitutional amendment to establish an independent citizens redistricting commission (ICRC).
• Include a call to action – something that empowers people. Ex: Support pending bills for an ICRC that have been introduced in the 87th Session
• Do not indicate that you are speaking on behalf of LWV
• Close with either the call to action or another concluding statement
Message content: How do I frame my problem statement to support the idea that an independent citizens commission is the solution?
• Know our key messages and make sure that they are communicated in your letter
• Consider an emotional appeal:
o Why you personally care about this issue
o What impact does Gerrymandering have on the lives of everyday people?
o How does partisan Gerrymandering influence the outcome of elections?
o How does it affect voter turn-out?
o What future do you want to help create, and why? How does this issue affect that future?
• Point out that an independent (independent of legislators) citizens redistricting commission is a non-partisan approach to redistricting
Tips and Protocol
• Tone: OK to be creative, but always be respectful
• Mention the appropriate elected official(s) (member of Congress, city council member) by name so they will see your letter
• Be accurate. Make sure what you say is truthful
• Don’t procrastinate. Submit your letter as soon as you can after the opportunity arises.
• Newspapers often select letters based on the volume of responses they receive about an article. Submitting several letters will improve the chances of at least one getting published
• Check your facts and messaging by visiting the LWVD website Gerrymander/Census page or the LWVT website
• A LTE is not an editorial. An editorial is more scholarly, complies with strict grammatical rules and is much ore lengthy. A LTE is written in a “newspaper style” and is often more provocative.
• Your LTE must be submitted on-line. Write it in Word first and then paste your final copy onto the on-line submission form: Where to submit your letter https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/2018/12/02/submit-a-letter-to-the-editor/
• Create a direct link to the submission form on your desktop. That way, you can quickly write and submit your letter.
After You’re Published
• Send a copy of your printed letter to the office that you communicate with (city council member or member of Congress).
• Make sure Joan knows so she can put it in an email to members and make sure the social media team gets it out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
• Distribute it in your personal social media circles, too. (You’ll get lots of likes!)