The Letter to the Editor section of newspapers is often read by thousands of people. However, even more important than its power as a public awareness tool, the Letter to the Editor section is carefully monitored by political leaders and their staffers. Reading letters to the editor helps political leaders gauge public opinion and determine what issues people are concerned about.
- What newspapers should I send my Letter to the Editor? Send your letters to local newspapers in your city and/or major newspapers in your state. It also never hurts to try sending it to major national newspapers and magazines (USA Today, Time, etc.).
- How do I find contact information? If you search, “the publications name” and “letters to the editor” you should be able to find an email address or form for submitting letters.
How to Write a Letter to the Editor
Before writing a letter, visit the newspaper’s website to get a feel for the main news stories of the day. Letters have a better chance of being published if they are tailored toward a major news story that was recently published (in the past 7 days). For example, if the Iraq War is the hot topic of the day, your letter can address the fact that more funding has gone to the War in Iraq than the total amount that experts estimate is needed to end hunger globally.
- The shorter the better – Two or three paragraphs are sufficient. Most publications require submissions of between 150-200 words.
- Be sure to include your full name and contact information (email address, home address and phone number) –They won’t publish your letter unless they can call to verify that you are the author. Anonymous letters are not published.
- Include the names of your Members of Congress with a call to action at the end. For example, if you’re writing about maternal health in developing countries, you can wrap up with something like, “I urge Senator Brown and Senator Reid to co-sponsor the Reach Every Mother and Child Act (S.1730) which seeks to end preventable diseases by 2030.” Send it to your Congressional leaders – If the letter is published, copy it and mail it to your state’s U.S. Senators and the U.S. Representatives in your area.
When the public is aware of certain facts, action for the world’s poor tends to occur. Below is an outline of the key information that we need your help raising awareness of.
- Tackle Myths & Pessimism: There is nothing complicated about improving living conditions for people suffering in abject poverty. Global poverty has been drastically reduced in recent years and there are many success stories of conditions being improved for families, villages and entire countries. The Borgen Project is challenging public and political pessimism in the U.S. and addressing the frequent justifications given as to why the U.S. isn’t doing more to address global poverty.
- Promoters of Possibility: The Borgen Project promotes innovations in poverty reduction and builds awareness of successes occurring.
- Address the “Hero Goggles”: The public drastically overestimates what is being done to address global poverty. On average, Americans estimate that 20 percent of the federal budget goes to foreign aid; in reality less than 1 percent goes to assisting the world’s poor. For political pressure to rise, the public needs to be aware of current shortcomings.
- Strategic Reasons for U.S. Involvement: The U.S. should prevent 25,000 children from dying each day, because the U.S. can prevent 25,000 children from dying each day. But beyond the humanitarian imperative, the United States has a strategic interest in improving the plight of the world’s poor. The Borgen Project is building awareness of the Economic, National Security and Diplomatic reasons for strong U.S. leadership in addressing global poverty.
Examples of Letters Published by Borgen Project Volunteers