Letters to the editor are a way for a newspaper’s readers to share their perspectives on issues of the day. If your local paper runs a story on your co-op’s report card, you can write a letter responding to that story – but letters to the editor don’t always have to be in response to an article or editorial. They can also just be about a topic that is current and relevant to a paper’s readership, such as new news, information or analysis about the local rural electric cooperative in your area.

Here are few tips on writing and submitting a letter to the editor about your co-op’s report card results:

  • To find out how to submit, go to the ‘letters to the editor’ section of your newspaper’s website – usually located within the broader “opinion” section – and look for submission instructions there. You should find an email address or online submission form, a mailing address, as well as any guidelines or requirements on length.
  • It varies by outlet, but letters are typically quite short – usually around 150 or 200 words, which is roughly 6-8 sentences.
  • Spend a little time reading other letters to editor published by your paper to get a sense of what’s being printed and overall length.
  • In thinking about what to convey in a letter on your co-op’s report card, start by making some notes about which of the nine topics analyzed are especially important to you. Why are they important to you? Do you – or does someone you know – have a personal experience that relates to some of the topics and could help illustrate for readers why they are important? Also make some notes about how you feel about how your co-op scored on those topics and what you hope the report card findings will lead to looking forward.
  • Next, use your notes to write your letter in your voice. If your paper has covered the report card or a related topic you can reference the article in your opening sentence. If not, for your opening sentence see if you can relate the topic of the report card to something currently in the news or on people’s minds. Potential ideas include the subject of elections or democracy, energy sources, electric bills or rates, or a recent or upcoming co-op board meeting.
  • After your opening sentence, use the middle part of your letter to succinctly mention findings from the report card, which particularly matter to you, and why they matter. In your closing sentence, you can focus on looking ahead, such as the changes or improvements you would like to see related to topics raised in the report card analysis.

  • Last but not least, take time to re-read your letter and make revisions and edits before you submit. It’s usually helpful to also ask someone else to also give your letter a read, to help you identify any areas that might need more clarity or revision.

When your letter runs, be sure to let us know! Email erik@cureriver.org.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

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