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News / Articles

How to Write Letters to the Editor

Joan Ridley | Published on 3/12/2021

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: 

• Editorials  

• 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 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
• 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!)