Write a Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor: How to Get Them Published & Why They Matter!

One way to communicate to both public officials and the public is through letters in our local newspapers.  (Commonly referred to as LTEs).  In fact, the second-most read section of the paper is the editorial page. This is the page that defines the communities’ hot button issues and is also the only section of the paper you control!

Below are some quick tips on writing letters to the editor and addresses for newspapers around Virginia.

Tips on Writing an LTE

Write Letter to the EditorReactionary – Newspapers like to see letters that react to or reference stories they just ran. It’s not essential, but if you can reference a recent article, you’re more likely to get printed.

Timely – Letters referencing a story are best submitted within 3 days of that story’s printing. Letters that signal of an upcoming event, vote or other notable item are also more likely to get printed.

Concise –Papers print items that fit nicely into their limited space.  If the paper has a word limit of 250, consider writing something at 150-200.

Localized and Personal – Even for national papers and topics, a good letter will have a local angle and/or a personal connection with the story. People can argue facts but no one will dispute your personal story or local perspective.

Smart and Witty – Citing a fact is good – it establishes credibility and makes you more likely to get printed. Stating an opinion in a clever way is a bonus.

Your Contact Info – A paper will only publish things it can verify, including your letter. Make sure your contact information (name, town and phone number) is included on your letter.  The paper will only print your name and town.

Follow up – This is a great way to ensure publication that people often neglect. Call your paper and see if they received your letter. Then ask if they will publish it. Keep calling until you get an answer.

Submitting Your Letter to the Editor

When submitting your LTE, make sure to follow any specific directions (if any) given by the editorial staff.  Include your full name, phone number and city in your email.  Phone numbers will not be published but editorial staff may call you to confirm it was you that submitted the letter.

Here is a list of newspapers in the state.  This is not an inclusive list.  If you have a local paper where you would like to submit your letter simply call the news desk ask how.

Chatham Star-Tribune news@chathamstartribune.com
Bristol Herald-Courier state@bristolnews.com
Charlottesville Daily Progress ashelburne@dailyprogress.com
Daily Press (Newport News) letters@dailypress.com
Danville Register & Bee rbenson@registerbee.com
Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star letters@freelancestar.com
Harrisonburg Daily News-Record letters@dnronline.com
Lynchburg News-Advance letters@newsadvance.com
Martinsville Bulletin info@martinsvillebulletin.com
Richmond Times-Dispatch letters@timesdispatch.com
Roanoke Times letters@roanoke.com
Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk) letters@pilotonline.com
Washington Post letters@wpost.com

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