Before you begin writing

  • Pay attention to submission requirements (word length, how to submit). You can find this information on the news outlets’ website. 
  • Read other opinion/LTEs in that news outlet to get a sense of the pieces they publish and the criteria they use.
  • If you have a relationship, call or discuss the opinion piece with the editor before submitting. For example, sometimes editors feel a story or particular angle has been exhausted and may indicate the need for a fresh angle (See How to Build a Positive Relationship with Press).


How to write an attractive letter to the editor/op-ed

  • Connect it with something that is already happening in the news. Reference a former article that the newspaper wrote, or an event that happened in the community. Then link it to what you want to talk about (See Framing Climate Change as News: Lessons from The Guardian).
  • Keep your key message at the top. This allows readers to understand your position early on, and sometimes editors may cut out the last part of your letter.
  • Make sure each sentence has its own purpose. Since we don’t have all the space in the world to explain ourselves, make sure every sentence makes its own statement and avoids being repetitive.
  • Make sure you know your message, what you want to say, and use clear and simple language—short words and sentences go a long way!
  • If you have a strong personal story, include it! A compelling human story helps to hook editors and readers.
  • Proofread!


Letters To the Editor (LTEs)

  • Typically short piece (< 300 words); can be used as a comment on a piece the outlet already published.


Opinion-editorials (op-eds): 

Local References:

The News and Observer,  The Indy: [email protected], WUNC: [email protected]

Want to do more? Join NC WARN’s Press the Press team.