One of the most powerful things you can do to add your voice to your community is to collect your thoughts and write an informed letter to the editor. The Review has been publishing letters for 125 years. We can help. Here are some of the most common questions we get asked. And the answers to those questions, of course.
Here is a run-down on stuff you might need to know, from Review publisher Louise Sproule.
What happens after I submit my letter?
After it has been edited, it will be released on our website. At that point, you can share the link with your network of friends and family. We may share your letter on The Review’s social media outlets, like Facebook, for example. Your letter will be in queue for publishing in the print and e-edition of The Review, which goes to press every Tuesday at 5 p.m. If your letter is to make it into the print edition, take note that you should submit it by noon on Monday of that publication week.
What can I write about?
A letter to the editor is your chance to express your opinion on anything, really. But you should know that if your letter is about an issue making the news, or is important in a very hyper-local way to your community, it goes to the top of the list.
Your Aunt Mabel’s long-time volunteer service is also important, but it might not be something that should be the topic of a letter to the editor.
If you have a good news item to share, consider sharing that as a press release.
Can I thank people and companies in a letter to the editor?
Yes, of course you can. Did someone rescue you from a burning vehicle? Did your neighbours raise funds to help you during a time of need? Tell that story. Readers love Good Samaritan stories.
But letters to the editor are not a forum to thank every business owner who gave you a door prize for your latest fundraiser, no matter how generous that was and how grateful you are. That’s something for our Cards of Thanks section.
Do I have to sign my letter?
In most cases, yes. If your opinion is important enough to share, you should put your name on it. Did you know that less than one per cent of the population writes letters to the editor? Did you know that for every letter-writer, there are hundreds of people who agree with your opinion.
But there are always exceptions. If you are writing, for example, about how you were bullied as a child or how you overcame a challenge and you still feel a stigma, or do not wish to be identified, we can work with that. You will have to add your name as you submit, but we can ensure that your name will not appear under your letter. If you need to talk to the publisher about this before you submit, email her at: [email protected]
How long should my letter be?
Try to keep it to 400 words or less. If it is too long, people may not read the whole thing. Sometimes, something seems of infinite importance to you, but people in a hurry just want the facts.
If I think the mayor is an idiot, can I say so in writing?
C’mon. You know the answer to this one. You can attack decisions, governance and results. Don’t attack people.
This is not a name-calling forum, nor is it a forum for you to show that you are smarter than your elected officials.
A good guideline is: If you would not want someone to say that about you, don’t say those things about them.
Will my letter be edited?
Yes. Our editors try to make sure it reads smoothly and we correct errors. We are not researching in depth every claim that you make, but we will not publish information that we know to be incorrect. Please do your research and be sure you are on top of the issue you are writing about.
Should I send photos?
Not for a letter to the editor. If you have photos to share, submit them to us via our news stream for press releases and other info. Please note that we need photos with a landscape, not portrait orientation. Let us know who took the photos. And identify the people in the photo, from left to right. (We get complaints when we don’t say who is in photos.)