A New Legislative Session Begins in January: Writing Letters to the Editor Is One Way to Have Your Voice Heard
by Morgan W. Brown
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
“I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.” – Maya Angelou
If you want to be heard on certain matters of concern (e.g., affordable housing or addressing homelessness, including what is really needed and what truly works versus what does not work and is not needed), it is crucial to do so in various ways. This includes by contacting your local state legislators who serve in the Vermont General Assembly in Montpelier, as well as to write and submit letters to the editor (LTE) or op-ed commentary both to local newspapers as well as to newspapers with a more regional or statewide circulation (e.g., Rutland Herald, Times Argus as well as VTDigger).
“To be an activist is to speak. To be an advocate is to listen. Society can’t move forward without both.” – Eva Marie Lewis
Tips on Writing Letters to the Editor
Letters to the editor are great advocacy tools. After you write letters to your members of the Vermont Legislature, sending letters to the editor can achieve other advocacy goals because they:
● reach a large audience.
● are often monitored by elected officials.
● can bring up information not addressed in a news article.
● create an impression of widespread support or opposition to an issue.
Keep it short and on one subject. Many newspapers have strict limits on the length of letters and have limited space to publish them. Keeping your letter brief will help assure that your important points are not cut out by the newspaper.
Make it legible. Your letter doesn’t have to be fancy, but you should use a typewriter or computer word processor if your handwriting is difficult to read.
Send letters to weekly community newspapers too. The smaller the newspaper’s circulation, the easier it is to get your letter printed.
Be sure to include your contact information. Many newspapers will only print a letter to the editor after calling the author to verify his or her identity and address. Newspapers will not give out that information, and will usually only print your name and city should your letter be published. (These tips on writing LTE’s were drawn from a previous version of a national ACLU Web page on the subject.)
Some newspapers limit a person to one letter to the editor per subject per month, so when you write, besides keeping it simple, brief and to the point, make it count. Most importantly, use your own words: i.e., keep it original.
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” – Frederick Douglass
This advocacy resource is a listing for e-mailing or online submissions of Letters to the Editor and Op-Ed commentaries to Vermont newspapers (however, please note, this is not an exhaustive or complete listing of all Vermont newspapers).
Vermont daily newspapers
Times Argus (Barre – Montpelier), online submission form and guidelines: www.timesargus.com/site/ forms/online_services/letter_editor/ or, submit to: [email protected]; Bennington Banner: [email protected] benningtonbanner.com; Brattleboro Reformer: [email protected] reformer.com; guidelines for submission: www. reformer.com/site/forms/online_services/letter_ editor/ ; Burlington Free Press: unfortunately, Letters to the Editor or ‘My Turn’ commentary are no longer accepted nor published by this newspaper; Newport Daily Express: guidelines and online submission form, www.newportvermontdailyexpress.com/site/forms/ online_services/letter_editor/; Rutland Herald: online submission form and guidelines, www.rutlandherald.com/ site/forms/letters/ or, submit to: [email protected] com; Valley News: guidelines and online submission form, www.vnews.com/Opinion/Submit-a-letter/ or, submit to: [email protected]; VTDigger (online publication only): policy and submission guidelines, vtdigger.org/submit-aletter-to-the-editor/
“Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” – Leonardo da Vinci
Vermont non-daily newspapers
Addison County Independent: online submission form, www.addisonindependent.com/send-a-letter-to-theeditor/ or, submit to: [email protected]; The (Montpelier) Bridge: [email protected]; The Commons: [email protected]; The (Barton) Chronicle: [email protected]; Counterpoint: Vermont publication of news, commentary & art by psychiatric survivors, mental health consumers and their families: [email protected] org; Deerfield Valley News: [email protected]; Hardwick Gazette: [email protected]; The Independent: Vermont publication for elders and people with disabilities. [email protected]; (Bradford) Journal Opinion: [email protected]; Manchester Journal: [email protected] manchesterjournal.com; The Milton Independent: [email protected] miltonindependent.com: Middlesex Newspaper: Letters: [email protected]; The Mountain Times: [email protected] info; (Lamoille County) News & Citizen: [email protected] newsandcitizen.com; The Northfield News: [email protected]; Randolph Herald: [email protected]; St. Albans Messenger: [email protected] or online form, www.samessenger.com/site/forms/online_services/ letter_editor/; Seven Days: online submission form and guidelines, posting.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/ LetterstotheEdditor/Page/; Stowe Reporter: [email protected] stowereporter.com; The (Washington) World: online form: www.vt-world.com/letters-to-the-editor/ or, submit to: [email protected]; Valley Reporter: [email protected]; Vermont Standard: [email protected]; Waterbury Roundabout: [email protected]; Williston Observer: [email protected]
“Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.” – Frederick Douglass
“You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result” – Mahatma Gandhi
Additional advocacy resources
Video: The People’s Guide to the Vermont Legislature (via CCTV): The People’s Guide to the Vermont Legislature is a half-hour program designed to encourage Vermonters to participate in their government by making the legislative process easier to understand. Viewers learn why the Legislature is so important, how it is structured, why committees are important, how bills can become law and how to get involved.
“When the world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” – Malala Yousafzai