Want to shape how your community thinks about a policy issue? Letters to the Editor (LTE) are a terrific way to do that! They make your voice heard, educate your neighbors, and can drive real change in your town, Augusta, and D.C. Your words and opinions matter; folks are much more likely to listen to a community member than a talking head! Here are some tips to improve the chances of getting your LTE published and your message heard.
[Includes specific talking points relating to 2021 legislation – both local and national]
- 9 Tips for Writing a Good Letter
- Talking Points for Letters
- How to Submit Your Letter
- Major Maine Publication Letter to the Editor Guidelines
- Sample Letters to the Editor
9 Tips for Writing a Good Letter
- Keep it to one subject you care about and check your local paper’s LTE word count to make sure your letter is within it (usually 250-300 words, often less for candidate endorsements).
- Use a personalized opener; e.g. “I’ve known CANDIDATE X for Y years…” It helps to establish your credibility. Or if you’re responding to a specific article in the paper, make that clear in your opening line.
- Stick to short sentences, short paragraphs, and simple, short words!
- Be yourself, no need for jargon or acronyms. Readers resonate more with an authentic voice.
- A personal story that illustrates the issue you’re writing about can make the issue real for readers; if you have an anecdote, consider using it!
- If you have unique insight or credibility on the subject, mention it (e.g. you’re writing about school funding and you’re a retired teacher).
- Use facts and stick to them: no hearsay, overstating or exaggerating a point.
- Be positive, respectful, and offer solutions/ideas whenever possible! No insulting or smearing opponents or opposing views.
- End with a call to action, e.g. “Be sure to vote for…” or “To find out more, go to this website…”
Talking Points for Letters
American Rescue Plan Talking Points
In early March, Dems passed President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. Here’s some of what it delivers to Maine:
- Stimulus checks of up to $1,400 for over 925,500 adults & 284,500 kids in Maine – that’s 90% of all adults & 87% of all kiddos in our state!
- Over $400 million for our K-12 schools.
- A Child Tax Credit that will lift 10,000 Maine children out of poverty.
- Jobless benefits extended through September.
- A total of $20 billion nationally for vaccine distribution.
Maine Legislature Talking Points
Dems in the Maine Legislature have been working hard for Mainers! The week of March 8th, they passed:
- A bipartisan supplemental budget that ensures 160,000 working-class Mainers won’t pay state taxes on their jobless benefits and 28,000+ businesses that got Paycheck Protection Program funds won’t pay state taxes on those funds.
- COVID-19 Patient Bill of Rights that requires state-regulated health insurance companies to provide COVID-19 screening, testing and immunization for free!
- House Assistant Majority Leader Rachel Talbot Ross’ bill LD 2, a landmark piece of legislation that creates a process for racial impact statements to be part of legislative bill development. This is a huge step forward for racial justice.
How to Submit Your Letter
- Find your local paper’s Letters to the Editor submission form or email address on their website and follow their instructions.
- Many newspapers will require that LTE writers submit contact information with their letter. Phone numbers won’t be published; it is just to verify that you are the author.
- Only submit your letter to one paper at a time; if it doesn’t get accepted there, try another.
- If your LTE gets published, please send it to us! email@example.com
Major Publication LTE Guidelines
- Portland – Portland Press Herald
- Lewiston – Sun Journal
- Bangor – Bangor Daily News
- Augusta – Kennebec Journal
- Click here for a list of publications throughout the state!
- Note: A non-political letter is required if you are sending your LTE to a Turner Publishing newspaper (Auburn Highlights, Country Connection, Country Courier, Franklin Focus, Good News Gazette, Greater Lisbon Ledger, Kennebec Current, Lewiston Leader, Moose Prints, Mountain Messenger, Oxford Hills Observer, Somerset Express, Two Cent Times, Western Maine Foothills).
Here are two example letters:
Sample LTE #1
CANDIDATE X brings good experience to town council
I have known CANDIDATE X for a number of years. I was thrilled to learn she is running for Town Council. Her experience as a business owner will bring an important perspective to the council. As a business owner myself, I respect her responsible approach to finances and balancing a budget. We both know what it means to make a payroll and how to work through challenging times.
Knowing CANDIDATE X’S passion for our community, it doesn’t surprise me that she is willing to take on this important position in addition to the responsibilities of raising a family and running a business. I support her for Town Council, because she brings a much needed business perspective and a focus on creating more economic opportunities for our town.
YOUR NAME, YOUR TOWN
Sample LTE #2
Democrats are fighting hard for schools
In response to the article “Democrats Don’t Care About Education” published on January 21, I would like to correct the record. As a long-time educator and lifelong Democrat, I know that this party cares deeply about our schools.
Just this past year, Democrats in the Statehouse voted to increase funding by X amount. This increase would support A, B, and C. This is just one example of how Democrats are fighting for quality education.
This election season, I hope you will join me in voting Democrat. A vote for them is a vote for our schools, our teachers, our children, and our future.
YOUR NAME, YOUR TOWN