Letters to the editor (LTEs) are one of the most effective ways to share your concerns about important issues with fellow constituents locally and across the state and highlight topics that elected officials should be tracking. There are more than 60 newspapers in Maine, including 6 dailies, and all of them accept LTEs. Need help getting started? These tips will point you in the right direction.
- Find a newspaper. Natural Resources Council of Maine maintains a list of newspapers in the state, with email addresses for submitting your LTE. Find it here.
- Keep it brief. Most newspapers have a limit of 200-250 words for LTEs, although weekly newspapers may accept longer letters.
- Stay on topic. Discuss only one issue per letter. You can respond to a recent news story or write about a current issue, elected official, or political candidate.
- Be clear and concise. Keep your sentences short, and make sure your point is clear within the first two sentences. Focus on the most important aspects of an issue, rather than trying to address multiple points.
- Make it personal. Are you writing about an issue that could affect you, your family, or your community? Including personal stories is a powerful way to underscore the importance of an issue and personalizes it for other readers.
- Include sources. Most newspapers publish LTEs on their website and encourage writers to include links to sources for statistics, facts, and arguments included in the letter. Don’t make arguments that you can’t back up with facts.
- Be timely. Try to submit letters when they will be most effective. If you’re writing about a bill, submit your LTE before legislators vote. If you’re responding to an article, submit your letter soon after the article appears and reference it in your LTE.
- LTE or guest editorial? Maine’s larger daily newspapers also run guest editorials that vary in length from 600-800 words. Those with notable expertise on an issue, or who are writing as a representative of a group are good candidates for guest editorials. Send an email query to the editorial page editor to gauge interest before submitting.
- Type it up. Most newspapers prefer to receive LTEs by email, with the text included in the email. Some newspapers have online forms for submitting an LTE. Check the paper’s website to verify.
- Identify yourself. Sign your letter with your name, address, phone number, and email address. Most newspapers will verify a LTE’s authenticity before publishing it, so expect a phone call or email from the publication after you submit your letter.
- Know the limit. If a newspaper runs your letter, there may be a waiting period before they will accept another submission from you.
- Repurpose. If your letter deals with legislation or policy, send it to your elected officials too! Find contact information for your federal and state legislators at the bottom of this page or on our Civic Dashboard.
Still need some help getting started or want a second set of eyes before you submit? Send us an email! firstname.lastname@example.org