How to write a letter to the editor

If we don’t speak up against pollution, overfishing, or warming oceans, then who will? You can make an impact by speaking up for our ocean wildlife.

Getting a Letter to the Editor published in either print newspapers or online news websites is a powerful way to make an impact for our oceans. Politicians and other community members look at these daily letters to get a sense of what is on the mind of Australians in their area.

Anyone can do it, and it doesn’t take long. Find out how to get your letter to the editor published!

 

How to write your letter to the editor

Editors receive hundreds of letters each day, so use these tips to increase your chances of having your letter published.

  • Be timely and relevant. If something in the media motivates you to reply, send your letter that day or at least within 24 hours. If you’re not responding to a story in the media, then try to make it about an event or theme that is topical (For example: Clean Up Australia Day).
  • Refer to an article or story. In the first sentence of your letter include the title and date of the article. Example: “I was so sad to read that Australia will participate in the global trade in shark fins (‘Shark fin exports on the rise’, 13/4).”
  • Create emotion. We know that people don’t act or change their minds based on facts; they react to feelings. So start with shared values — why is this important to you? And then talk about the problem and how we can fix it. Example: “I just visited the Great Barrier Reef and was so upset to see the impact climate change is having on our beautiful Reef. The Government needs to save the Reef by stopping new thermal coal mines and rapidly transitioning to renewable energy.”
  • Be brief and be clear! Keep it under 150 words and you’re more likely to get your letter published.
  • Keep it simple. Stick to the point. Editors don’t want an essay. They want your opinion, and reasons to back it up. If the issue is complex, choose one or two points and stick to them. You can always write another letter next week!
  • Be noticed! Make your letter stand out from the other by using an attention-grabbing first sentence to make people notice.
  • Proof read your letter. Make sure your letter to the editor is edited for grammar and spelling mistakes, and check that it makes sense. Ask a friend or relative to read over it before you send it off.

 

Example

Dear Editor

Great first step to hear the LNP will plan for a future beyond coal in QLD (“Deb Frecklington gives nod to green energy in Queensland”, June 14). As the owner and operator of Sailaway Port Douglas we have seen the impacts of climate change on our beautiful Reef. As part of a $6 billion industry sustaining 64,000 jobs, we need our decision makers to say no to Adani and new coal projects to give our Reef the best chance for the future. We are embarrassed that Australia is among the world’s top three biggest coal exporters. As the custodian of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia should be leading the way on the transition from coal to renewable energy.

Steve Edmondson

 

How to submit your letter

Search for your local newspaper or news channel’s website. Usually information on where to submit a letter to the editor is found in the contact section of their website.

Some useful contacts:

The Canberra Times: letters.editor@canberratimes.com.au

The Sydney Morning Herald: letters@smh.com.au

The Australian: letters@theaustralian.com.au

The Courier Mail: online form here.

The Age: see here

The West Australian: letters@wanews.com.au

The Australian Financial Review: edletters@afr.com.au

NT News: online form here

The Cairns Post: letters@cairnspost.com.au

Townsville Bulletin: letters@townsvillebulletin.com.au

The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton): tmbully@capnews.com.au