Advocacy tool: Write a letter to the Editor

It is important to rely on digital communication tools to make our voices heard, for ourselves, for our communities, and in our case — for the horses. One such tool is a letter to the editor (LTE)—a brief piece, usually fewer than 300 words, that anyone can write and submit to a newspaper.

Such a letter can be written in response to a piece that’s already been published by a given media outlet, or it can be a proactive statement of support for or opposition to an issue that affects the publication’s readers.

“It’s the perfect way to reach thousands of individuals and still remain publicly engaged, but without having to leave the comfort of your home.”

Maria Michalos

Five tips to producing a successful LTE

1. Personalize it.

“Newspaper editors typically select letters to the editor that are authentic and personalized,” Maria Michalos says, so don’t be afraid to open up and use your own voice as you draft your LTE. 

2. If you’re responding to a published piece in the newspaper, make that clear.

In this case, your first sentence should directly reference the other article. This could help you build a point/counterpoint narrative for your letter, where you respond to specific statements from the piece with your own perspective, using data to back up your argument. It also shows you’re open to engaging other points of view on the topic, an important foundation for persuasive writing.

3. Be authoritative and stick to the facts.

You will be able to state your case in a convincing way if you avoid giving an opinion and state the facts. Mention your expertise and experience on the topic where applicable. You may write from the perspective of your occupation, your own experience with the given topic, or as a long-standing member of the local community.

4. End with a call to action.

Keeping in mind that the piece shouldn’t run any longer than 300 words (and that some publications have guidelines limiting letters to 150 words), wrap up with a line that lets readers know how to get involved or learn more. Then conclude the piece with a bold, final statement of your case.

5. Submit the letter.

Now that you’ve written your LTE, don’t be shy: It’s time to send it off. Draw up a list of local newspapers serving your community and look online for each publication’s instructions on how to reach their editors. But keep in mind that every letter to the editor should be unique. It’s best not to submit the same piece to multiple papers; instead, just select one paper to contact, and if your letter doesn’t get accepted by the first outlet, continue to move down your list. Be persistent, and please reach out let everyone know when your letter goes up!

Source: Natural Resources Defense Council

Sample letter

The following is a Letter to the Editor published by Bucks Local News. Ms Dillon did an excellent job. Link to posted letter »

Published Text

Congress needs to stop the transport of horses to slaughter

It is always reassuring to see Congress make animal welfare a priority in its federal decisions, and it is great to see that Rep. Fitzpatrick has continued his dedication to animals by leading a bipartisan amendment that would end the transport of horses to slaughter in the recently passed “INVEST in America Act.”

Equine slaughter is inhumane and cannot be made humane. Horses are shipped for more than 24 hours at a time in crowded trucks in which animals are often seriously injured or killed during transit. In addition, the methods used to kill horses rarely result in quick, painless deaths. Before the last domestic plant closed, the USDA documented rampant cruelty violations and severe injuries to horses. Although the last horse slaughter plants in the U.S. closed in 2007, there is currently no law that prohibits the export of American equines abroad to be slaughtered for human consumption.

Sharon Dillon, Ottsville

We encourage you to use this valuable advocacy tool to work on behalf of our horses. Be sure to get any interested friends you have involved. Your children too, especially at the junior high and high school levels.

Thank you everyone!


“Cruelty is contagious. Harm done to one is harm done to all.”

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