Writing a Letter to the Editor

Who reads the newspaper? Your elected officials and your fellow concerned citizens! Getting your opinion published in your local paper can help bring important public lands issues to the attention of others in your community and your elected leaders.

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Spring Basin Wilderness

Spring Basin Wilderness

Spring Basin Wilderness

With 10,000 acres of undulating terrain, secluded canyons and spectacular vantages of the John Day Country, Spring Basin is magnificent to explore This public treasure, forever protected as Wilderness, offers a profusion of desert wildflowers in the spring and year-round recreational opportunities for hikers, horseback

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Craig Terry, ONDA member and stewardship volunteer

Craig Terry, ONDA member and stewardship volunteer

“The people I have had the privilege to share time with each season keep me volunteering again and again. Who else but those ONDA staff leaders would make fresh coffee at dawn each morning or pack a watermelon all day to serve as a reward under a juniper in a steep canyon?” Craig, who grew up in northwestern Nevada, says ONDA connects him with places he loves and a mission he believes in. “My grandfather and his father put up wire fences for their ranching needs. Taking out barbed wire sort of completes a circle for me.”

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Cregg Large, member since 2009

Cregg Large, member since 2009

“I came to Oregon 12 years ago from Texas. Texas, for all its size, has very little public land. Coming to Oregon has made me realize the special gift we as Americans have in our public lands. Volunteering with an organization like ONDA is my way of reciprocating for this gift. Through restoration efforts, I feel we are helping leave a better place than we found it. Through advocating for protection for public lands, we safeguard migration routes for animals and keep the land where it belongs: with the public.”

How to write an effective letter to the editor in six simple steps:

  1. Follow the rules of the publication. Most papers limit letters to 250 words. Don’t go over your limit. Find links to the letters to the editor policies for many Oregon papers below, as well as instructions for how to submit your letter.
  2. Be concise. Choose one topic to focus on, and state your opinion clearly and briefly at the beginning of your letter, then use local examples, personal experience, or relevant facts to back it up.
  3. Keep it current. Write about something happening right now, or a topic the newspaper recently wrote about. If you’re responding to an article or editorial, mention it and the date it ran.
  4. Make a clear ask that offers a solution. What do you want the reader, the editor of the paper, or your elected leaders to do after they read your letter?
  5. Revise your letter and let it sit. If you used emotional language (words like stupid, dumb, ridiculous, silly, or expletives), take it out. When you can, wait a few hours after your write your letter, then read it again before you send it. Or, send it to a trusted friend for feedback.
  6. Send it in. Don’t let “the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Your letter does not need to be Pulitzer Prize-worthy to be effective. Take a deep breath, and press send!

Letter Submission Policies – Select Oregon Newspapers:

  • For the Willamette Weekly: Letters to the editor must include the author’s street address and phone number for verification. Letters must be 250 or fewer words. Submit to: 2220 NW Quimby St., Portland, OR 97210 or, email: mzusman@wweek.com

Letter Submission Policies – Select National Outlets:

Letter Submission Policies – Select Regional Outlets: