Sunday, January 27, 2008

Writing letters to the editor: online help

Why write a letter to the editor (LTE)? Writing an LTE is one of the best ways to communicate with your community, the media, your members of congress, and political candidates. If you write to their offices, that's great. However, if I wrote to Sen Clinton, it would have little impact as I'm not her constituent. And if I write to Sen Obama, it would be noted when his staff told him "x" number of people wrote to him about global poverty. But consider how many people I'd reach if my LTE gets published:
- The editorial staff sees it and is aware that the paper's readers care about poverty
- The readership sees it and learns more about the issue
- The member of Congress takes special note as their staff scans the media for their boss' name
Then you get extra communication by sending them a clipping with a handwritten letter. Admittedly, it's hard to get published in a national paper like the NY Times as they receive hundreds of letters per day and print only a few. Yet you're still contributing to your cause by writing. If you see a poverty LTE printed in response to a recent article, it's there because many people wrote in about the same thing. So, you might be helping another person get published and the paper will print more news or editorials about poverty because they know their readers care.

Intimidated? Don't know where to start? That's how I felt last year. But by starting small (with my small local paper) and using on-line help from Bread for the World, I was able to quickly get one printed. That was my very first blog entry, too! Here's the BFW website:
http://www.bread.org/get-involved/in-the-media/How-to-Write-A-Letter-to-the-Edi.html

FYI, the ONE campaign has help to write LTE's http://www.onevote08.org/lte/ but I don't recommend this approach. They streamlined it so you can send pre-written letters, which is a giant no-no in the world of media advocacy. I have heard newspaper staff say it's unethical to submit identical pieces to different papers. Each LTE should be unique and responding to something that has run in that paper in the last 7 days. However, the ONE site is a good tool to find the papers in your zip code area and look at some talking points that ONE is espousing.

Good luck!

3 comments:

Leila Bonet said...

hi!

I just discovered your blog and thought it was really interesting and well documented on the anti poverty issue.

I am an intern at the UN End Poverty 2015 campaign I got a blog too...

let meknow what you think about it if you get a chance :)
cheers,
leila.bonet.blogspot.com

Holly said...

Nice post.

CCYL said...

Leila-
I'm so honored that someone from the UN dropped by! Please write in your own blog about what you're doing with End Poverty 2015. I'll check in now and again and maybe highlight some of your work! Cheers!