Media Outreach Series: Writing and Submitting a Letter to the Editor

Categories: Blog

Author: Tim Kauffman

Writing a letter to your local newspaper is a great way to share your viewpoint on a particular issue that’s in the news.

If AFGE is pushing back against cuts to federal programs and services, for example, writing a letter to the editor explaining how the work that you do helps citizens in the community can be very effective.

Perhaps a recent article portrayed federal employees in a negative light. You can write a letter in response that sets the record straight and discusses the good work that federal employees do on behalf of the American public.

For a hot-button issue, AFGE frequently will post a draft letter to the editor on the national website, www.afge.org. For example, in response to the emerging coronavirus, AFGE uploaded a sample letter to the editor calling for more support for front-line federal workers.

To improve the likelihood that an outlet will publish your letter, reference a recent article published by the outlet that is related to your letter. For instance, to complete the sample coronavirus letter, you could add a line saying: “As you recently reported (Headline and Date of article), not enough is being done to protect front-line workers from the coronavirus pandemic.”

If there isn’t a template available, don’t worry. Just remember a few key steps:

  • Focus on one or two key facts that best illustrate the point you are trying to make.
  • Tie your letter to an article recently published in the same outlet where you’re submitting your letter. To do this, simply mention the headline and date of the article in the body of your letter.
  • Keep the letter to the length specified by your particular newspaper. Most letters are under 250 words. Details on submissions to the top online and print publications in the country can be found at theopedproject.org/submission-information.
  • Include your name, phone number, and email address so the newspaper can contact you with any questions.
  • As a reminder, when speaking to the press or appearing in a media outlet, it is imperative that you identify yourself as a union activist. Make it clear that you are speaking in your capacity as a union member, NOT on behalf of a government agency.

Once your letter is complete, follow the instructions on the OpEd Project website to submit your letter. If your newspaper isn’t listed, you should be able to find submission guidelines on the paper’s website or by calling the paper and asking to speak to the editorial department.

And as always, if you run into any problems, feel free to contact the Communications Department by sending an email to [email protected].


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