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How to write Letters to the Editor (LTE’s) that stand a good chance of getting published

Joan Ridley | Published on 10/14/2021

 Why Write LTEs?

  • Educate the community about the impact of partisan and racial 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 the attention of elected officials

Look for LTE Opportunities

Stories may not talk about Gerrymandering. Our job is to point out the relationship. Examples of topics to look for:

  • Stories about redistricting and Gerrymandering
  • Certain issues like climate change, health care and gun safety have redistricting/Gerrymandering angles
  • Look for articles where legislative activity (bills and laws) do not reflect the will of the people.Ex: they are contrary to surveys on a topic
  • Administrative agencies failing to regulate adequately – likely because Congress is caving to industry pressure

Letter to the Editor Tips

  • Find out how your publication requires letters to be submitted and whether there’s a word limit.For example, DMN has a 200 word limit.
  • Construct a good argument:
    • Open by saying “thank you for… “ such as “for publishing this article”, “focusing attention on this issue”, etc
    • Reference the story or opinion piece that you’re responding to.  
    • Transition into how the story relates to redistricting and Gerrymandering.
    • Avoid including figures and other facts as much as possible.Editors don’t have time to fact check and will eliminate your LTE.
    • Identify our solution: establish an independent redistricting commission (IRC).
    • Include a call to action – something that empowers people.  Ex: I support HB or SB (name the bill) that would establish an IRC. Do not say that LWV supports the bill or that you speak for, or represent, the LWV.
    • Call out elected officials – like your member of Congress – that you’re asking to take action
    • Tone: OK to be creative, passionate and forceful, but always be respectful and truthful. 
    • Don’t procrastinate; submit your letter as soon as you can after the opportunity arises.
    • Suggestion: write your LTE in Word and do a copy and paste to the DMN submission form after you have completed your line editing and word count.
    • Avoid including links.

Message content: How do I frame my problem statement to support the idea of establishing an IRC. 


Know the League’s key messages and make sure that they are communicated in letters. 

  • Consider an emotional appeal:
    • Why you personally care about this issue.
    • What impact does racial or partisan Gerrymandering have on the lives of everyday people?
    • State how racial or partisan Gerrymandering has influenced elections.
    • What future do you want to help create, and why? How does this issue affect that future?
  • It’s OK to say that you are a member of LWVD, but do not say or imply that you represent or speak for LWVD.

After You’re Published

  • Distribute it in your personal social media circles, too. (You’ll get lots of likes!)
  • Call it to the attention of Joan and Karen.The reason is that there are several versions of some publications.Your LTE could have been published in one but not the others so we might have missed it.

Discussion & Points for letters

Just about any issue where positions taken by our elected officials are contrary to those of the people is related to racial or partisan Gerrymandering. Here are a few examples:

  • Guns
  • Health care, Medicaid expansion, women’s reproductive care
  • Climate change
  • Immigration issues
  • Lack of civility and vitriolic rhetoric
  • Election issues
  • Voting rights issues

 

Where to submit your Letter to the Editor. (Please send us your own suggestions):

Dallas Morning News https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/2018/12/02/submit-a-letter-to-the-editor/