Write a Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor are a valuable and effective tool for communicating our message to voters, and building momentum for our movement.  On this page you will find several handy hints and links to further material to help you in quickly preparing a letter to the editor.

Start by following these simple steps:

  1.   Identify where to submit your letter.
  2.   Be familiar with the editorial policy of the publication you intend to submit to regarding publishing of letters.
  3.   Focus your letter on a key point that you want to emphasize.
  4.   Use your own words to express your message.
  5.   Send HCAO a copy of your letter.

Step 1:  Where to submit your letter.

If you are familiar with your local paper, take a look on their website, or in their published edition, and you should be able to find the information for where to submit a letter-to-the-editor without difficulty.  One good source for locating the websites of publications in Oregon is the online version of The Oregon Blue Book.

Step 2:  Editorial Policy.

While specifics vary, publications will have policies regarding the publication of letters-to-the-editor, which usually include the following aspects:

  • Word limit - Word limits vary, but are usually from 250 to 500 words.  Some online publications, or online submission forms, have a character limit.
  • Submission limit - Many publications will not publish a submission from one person more often than once a month.
  • Local first - Smaller publications in particular may limit letters-to-the-editor to people who reside within their distribution area, or they may simply give preference to letters from the local area.
  • Local news - Most publications will give preference to letters that either specifically respond to items that previously appeared in the publication, or that directly relate to local news or local people.
  • No duplicates - Most publications will decline to publish letters that appear to be scripted or mass produced.  They want the letters to reflect the voice of their readers, not be parroted statements sent out in mass.

You will need to check the publication's website, or print edition, to find their specific policies.

Step 3:  Key points.

It is best to keep your letter succinct and clearly focused on one or two key points.  Do not try to cram multiple points into your letter, as it will likely become confusing and lose the strength of a clear argument.  Visit websites like hcao.org, pnhp.org, and healthcare-now.org to learn more about the issues, and to keep up on current news.

Step 4:  Your own words.

Letters are most effective when written in your own words.  You should tell a story from your own experience, and relate why you find this to be so important.  You can read through letters submitted by others for ideas, but the letter you submit should sound like it came from you, and not from anyone else.

Step 5:  Tell HCAO.

Once you've submitted a letter for publication, let us know.  You can submit it to HCAO at this page.

Want to do more?

Contact others in your community and plan a rotation of letter writers.  Have someone each week who will write and submit a letter commenting on the latest news about universal health care.