September 8, 2017

Write an Op-Ed or Letter to the Editor


Have you seen news coverage/opinion pieces on the Sanders bill or single payer in general that mischaracterize the issue, fearmonger about taxes, rationing, etc., or otherwise perpetuate myths about single payer? Newspapers are listening: write them an Op-Ed or Letter to the Editor!

When to write an Op-Ed vs. a Letter to the Editor

Letters to the editor are :

    • usually written in direct response to an article, editorial, op-ed, or column that the target paper has printed, or a reaction to a newsworthy event
    • are short – 150 words or less – and can be summarized in 1 or 2 points, succinctly stated
    • timely and relevant to news that’s at most 2 days old

    Op-eds (or “opposite editorial”):

      • are longer-form pieces – typically 500 -750 words – that can take the form of feature articles, commentary, or opinion and flesh out a bold or interesting stance (i.e., single payer is fiscally responsible, single payer is popular with the Republican base, etc.)
      • are more likely to be published if the author has credibility/expertise on the issue, or is making their case through a powerful personal story
      • will be relevant not only today but also for the next few weeks (op-eds have a longer lead time before publishing)
      • will require actively pitching your piece to editors

      ***Letters to the editor are also more likely to get published than an op-ed and can be published in a quicker turnaround than an op-ed.

      Letter to the Editor Guidelines
      Many papers provide guidelines for submitting a LTE, which should be checked before putting pen to paper. Here’s a few more style suggestions:

        • Focus on one important point; don’t try to address separate issues in one letter.
        • Maximize your chance of being published by removing every non-essential word. For example, don’t say, “I think…”
        • Don’t use all capital letters or bold text to emphasize a word.
        • Use local statistics if writing to a local/regional paper

        Examples of Good Letters to the Editor

        Op-Ed Guidelines

        Examples of Good Op-Eds

        Submission Tips

          • Before writing, check the guidelines of the paper(s) to which you’ll submit your piece. Each paper has its own word count, style preferences, and submission protocol.
          • Send all your contact info with the piece.
          • For Op-Eds, submit your piece to one paper at a time.