Writing A Letter To The Editor (of a newspaper)

This post is about writing effective Letters to the Editor (LTE) or Op-Ed pieces that I gleaned from other places. I am posting this information here to help me remember the ideas. I personally am not a proficient letter writer, yet. Maybe the ideas will help others too.

Why write Letters to the Editor or Op-Eds? Besides sharing ones views with our neighbors, we know that politicians read this section of the paper!

Before you yourself write to the Newspapers, you should also be reading the paper! Especially the opinion pages. Papers will only publish a Letter to the Editor (LTE, or an Op-Ed, for that matter) if it references and is relevant to a news item or opinion piece the newspaper has recently published. So you have to be a detective and look for the opportunities.

If you have particular issues you are concerned with you can set up Google Alerts for the newspapers you want to monitor about particular subjects. If you are simply “reacting” to a given article or current event, you can still use these methods to improve the likelihood that your efforts will have meaning.

Here, in order of the likelihood of getting responded to, are the kinds of pieces in newspaper to which you can respond. When you respond to pieces at the top of the list you are more likely to be published.

  • Editorials
  • Front page stories
  • Staff columnists (not syndicated)
  • Op-eds, then other letters
  • Other stories

Actually writing your letter or article: LTE’s are the most meaningful form of advocacy. If possible and relevant, include the name of the politician or other VIP that you’re trying to influence. LTEs can be written using a simple recipe:

  • Begin by referring to the original article / columnist / letter or op-ed writer
  • Transition by showing the relationship of the original article to your concern
  • Present a solution
  • Clearly make a call to action
  • Close with a zinger

Of course, it is assumed that you abide by the rules of the given newspaper regarding methods (size, signature email address,etc.). Follow the rules, speak politely and honestly, and you may be published. We all want to communicate, but few of us ever do. We don’t all have to agree, but we should all be heard. Please don’t let Facebook be your only forum!

Note: Google Alerts is a service that generates search results based on criteria provided by you that delivers the results to your e-mail account “automatically”.  This service is particularly useful for monitoring the web when you don’t have time to remember every day!  Just go to http://www.google.com/alerts, use your Google ID, and build your query along with the repetition pattern you prefer. Then set back, relax, and only “new” results will be delivered to whatever email address you selected.  Google Alerts can be used for just about anything, from genealogy searches to locating new information about your company, your kids, your online content’s popularity or your competition. You can also use it to keep up to date with new advancements, celebrity gossip or current trends.  Whatever search criteria you can build can be used. Even if you never every write a LTE, you should still learn about using Google Alerts. The delete key can ignore an item in your email faster that you can write the query over and over.

CCL’s Revenue-Neutral Carbon Fee and Dividend Plan

A fee is added to carbon based fuels based on the amount of carbon they contain. The fee is collected upstream, at the source (well, mine, port of entry). This fee starts at $15 per ton of fossil CO2 emitted, and increases steadily each year by $10 per ton, until total U.S. emissions have been reduced to 10% of U.S. emissions in 1990.

The plan is “revenue neutral” which means the government doesn’t keep any of the fee revenue. 100% of the money collected is returned to American households on an equitable basis. Under this plan 66% of all households would break even or receive more in their dividend check than they would pay for the increased cost of energy, thereby protecting the poor and middle class.

Clean energy is cheaper than fossil fuels within a decade. A predictably increasing carbon price will send a clear market signal which will unleash entrepreneurs and investors in the new clean-energy economy.

What is the fee based on? The amount of carbon in the fuel
Where is the fee collected? Upstream, at the well, mine head, or port of entry
How much is the fee in the first year? $15 per ton
How much does the fee increase each year? $10 per ton
Why is this plan revenue neutral? The government doesn’t keep any of the fee revenue
What does CCL’s plan do with the fee revenue? Returns 100% to households
What percent of households will break even or come out ahead with our plan? 66%
What will this predictably rising price cause? Unleash entrepreneurs and investors in the new clean-energy economy
When will the yearly tax increases end? When US emissions reach 10% of 1990 levels

For more information about CCL in general, go here: citizensclimatelobby.org


Monterey Chapter of Climate Change Lobby meets March 31

Last month, the first meeting of a newly formed Monterey chapter of the Citizen’s Climate Lobby (CCL) was held in Monterey, CA.. The first meeting was just to get the ball rolling, to find out if there was enough interest to move forward, etc. It was a success with over 30 people attending.

Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a nonprofit, non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change. Carbon Fee and Dividend is the policy proposal created by Citizens Climate Lobby to internalize the costs of burning carbon-based fuels.

CCL provides a path through which ordinary citizens who want to do more to solve the climate problem than just clicking online petitions can become involved. The group doesn’t require any special skills, just a desire to try and help grease the wheels for climate policy in the USA and Canada.

If you weren’t able to attend our inaugural meeting and are still interested in joining our chapter, please plan to attend our first chapter meeting on Tuesday March 31 at 6:00 pm at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the Guide Lounge.

The Guide Lounge is across the street from the Aquarium in the building next to the drop-off area for tour buses, on the first floor beyond the front desk. Someone will be there to let you in. Feel free to bring something to eat and drink. Hope you can join us.

For more information about CCL in general, go here: citizensclimatelobby.org

I enjoyed this post by Carla Wise in “High Country News” about her CCL chapter: