Make it a habit to write a letter to the editor every month. You can be a voice for justice. Here’s how.
An important part of our legislative and election strategy is to educate the public about issues and candidates we care about. Most of the public won’t read our bill summaries or subscribe to our blog for more in-depth analysis of issues. So we have to continuously build and expand the number of folks who do pay attention, and engage, educate, organize, and activate them.
The guide below includes a brief description of how to write a good letter from one of our volunteers who is experienced in media relations. At the bottom of the summary are four sample letters to the editor followed by a list of the ten largest publications throughout the state with links and guidelines about how to write letters to those newspapers. And finally, we list a goodly number of smaller locale newspapers and weeklies, again with guidance for submitting LTEs.
TIPS FOR WRITING LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (LTEs)
- Stay within the maximum number of words listed by the media outlet and once you have a LTE published, do not submit moreletters than the publication allows. Most limit LTEs to monthly, some quarterly.
- Focus on one issue and make your most important point in the beginning.
- Start with a snappy lead sentence that grabs the readers’ attention.
- If you have personal or professional experience on the topic, include it. How will the bill affect you, your child, your business, your community? Make it personal, tell a story. A letter that begins, “When my mother was diagnosed with cancer I learned how complex, expensive, and cruel our health-care system is,” will get an editor’s attention, and a reader’s attention.
- Include a reference to another LTE or Opinion piece you read if it spurred your LTE, e.g., “After reading Mr. Smith’s LTE, Fight Crime, (SFNM, 5/22/19, p.1), I want to add…” This is not necessary, but if you see another LTE that opposes a position you support and offers misinformation, this is an opportunity to correct that misinformation.
- Support your point with evidence (research, personal story, recent events). For LTE’s on bills before the legislature, see our bill list for help, if you need it.
- Submit your letter via the form provided by the media outlet on their website or by regular email; some accept snail mail if you lack access to email. See media list that follows.
- Always include your contact info: name, address, phone, email address. If they can’t verify who you are, they won’t print your LTE.
- When you add a signature, be sure to include your city, so readers realiz you are local, and if you are comfortable, add, Name, City, Retake Our Democracy volunteer;
- Don’t be discouraged if your LTE isn’t published; they have many reasons that have nothing to do with your letter. However, they do notice how many they get on a single topic.
- If they print your LTE about an upcoming event, send a short thank you to the paper about the success of the event and tell them about other ways they can help….another event coming up?
It is important that you use these letters as guides, but that you use your own voice. Newspapers will not print letters when they see that multiple letters using the same language are being submitted. As soon as we develop LTEs they are soon out of date. So, while we have passed the legislation to decriminalize abortion, the format and approach is still germane.
Sample # 1: Abortion –mission accomplished,
New Mexico needs to secure access to abortion in New Mexico in 2021. A 1969 anti-abortion law would become active if the US Supreme Court repeals Roe v Wade. Recent polls indicate that 70% of New Mexicans oppose the reinstatement of punitive anti-abortion laws and believe that women should make that decision for themselves. The US and New Mexico have some of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates among developed nations. Instead of forcing more women, especially poor women, to have more children, creating additional poverty for them and their children, we should focus on family planning. By increasing women’s access to reproductive healthcare, education, and job training, we can improve economic conditions for them and for our state as well as reduce the number of abortions. To find out more about how you can advocate for good bills, go to RetakeOurDemocracy.org. They make it effortless to raise your voice.146 words
Susan McGrew, Retake Our Democracy
Sample # 2: PNM – Avangrid Merger
The more I learn about the proposed PNM and Avangrid merger, the worse it
smells. This, despite a program of full-page ads by both corporations about how
good the merger would be for New Mexico and the environment. PNM already has
too much political power in the state through its lobbying and campaign
contributions The absence of transparency in details of this merger, especially
concerning the degree of independence of a local board of directors, suggests
intentional concealment of corporate intentions. (“Examiner: Avangrid, PNM
letter must be made public,” June 29). If approved, this merger hands New
Mexico’s future over to a mega corporation who prioritizes profit over people
or planet. How is it possible that our Governor and Attorney General have voiced
support for this merger?
Thank you New Energy Economy and Retake Our Democracy for exposing this
merger. You’ve provided leadership so absent from state government.
Sample # 3: In praise of Retake
Kudos to Retake Our Democracy for compiling and authoring the 2019 NM Legislative Report Card and now their 2022 Primary Elecion Endorsements! The Report Card praises legislators who worked tirelessly to pass critical legislation and exposes other NM legislators who blocked good legislation. The Report presents a shocking revelation of what goes on behind the scenes, who controls choosing the bills slated for survival and those earmarked to be cast aside, buried alive, never to be heard before a committee. The fact that our bipartisan legislative leadership thinks it’s permissible to exercise their will, backed by corporate lobbyists, versus the will of the people, is an abuse and misuse of the power they have been entrusted with. It’s critically important to expose which Democratic lawmakers sided with Republicans, to block, manipulate and predetermine the fate of advancing economic, climate/ environmental justice and other socially-conscious bills.Find out more about RetakeOur Democracy go to retakeourdemocracy.org. 149 words
Joyce Bogosian, Retake Our Democracy
Why I Support Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham
I have heard too many frustrated Democrats indicate that they may not vote in November, they are so disilussioned with elected Democrats who have not consistently fought for progressive legislation. I grew so frustrated with the Governor’s climate policies, i was arrested for partipating in a sit-in at her office. So, i understand frustration.
But we do not want to relive the 2016 national election in our NM Governor’s rac. In 2016, when so many stayed home, Trump was able to eke out a win over Clinton. Just as there was a huge difference between Trump and Hillary; there is avast difference between MLG and Mark Ronchetti. And we do not want Ronchetti as our governor as he would not have signed any of these bills into law– repealing the abortion ban;creating Extreme Risk Protection Order to allow removal of weapons from homes with individuals deemed at risk of harming themselves or others; providing financial relief to immigrants; limiting the small loan rate to 36%; advancing tjhe Health Security Act; or increasing funding for early childhood and creating free colllege for all New Mexicans. Instead, he would eagerly sign a new abortion ban; stop the HSA cold; and send the National Guard to our border. In addition, during the pandemic, MLG took the heat and courageously shut things down and mandated masks, saving hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives. Ronchetti would not have done that.
The choice in November is not a popularity contest, it is a choice between a somewhat disappointing, but largely reliable moderate Dem and a right wing Republican who would make it impossible to advance to law any progressive legislation and God forbid if the GOP gained control of the Roundhouse, our advocacy would not be to pass public banking or public power, but on trying to repel reinstuting the criminalization of abortion and the death penalty. That is a huge difference. So, I am asking all you disgruntled Dems to not just vote a straight Democratic ticket, but to share this letter with others you know who are pondering saying home in November.
To much is at stake to not use your voice first and then your vote.
Paul Gibson, Co-Founder, Retake Our Democracy, 360 words
Inventory of Media Outlets
This list was developed in 2019, so since some of the publications may have changed their rules for submitting letters, please check with the outlet to verify rules are still unchanged. if you find that a publication has changed its rules, please send us an updated description to RetakeResponse@gmail.com. We will update that in our list. Thank you and, Write On!!
If a daily or weekly newspaper published in your community, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will include it in this developing list. Wherever a newspaper requires submitting in a form, we recommend you craft your letter or op-ed in a word processing program and then copy and paste your finished product. And, to reiterate one of the primary points above, your personal reasons for supporting a bill or for promoting Retake are much more likely to be published and much more likely to have an impact on readers.
- Albuquerque Journal. 350 words for letter to the editor, 650 words for my view. Letters must include writer’s signature, home address and telephone, and a daytime number. Though addresses and phone numbers are not published, they are needed to confirm authorship prior to publication.
- Santa Fe New Mexican. The link takes you to a form to be used for submitting a letter (150 words) or My View (600 words)
- The Daily Times. The Daily Times covers the Four Corners, including Farmington, Aztec, Bloomfield and the Navajo Nation. Send your 250-word (or less) letter to email@example.com. Have more to say? Write us a Local Voices column at a maximum of 500 words. Columns of local or statewide interest get first consideration.
- The Gallup Independent. Letters may not exceed 500 words. Letters may be edited for space and clarity. The Independent may choose not to print any letter for any reason. Letters may be mailed, delivered in person, faxed or emailed to: Editor, The Independent, P.O. Box 1210, Gallup, NM 87305, fax: 505-722-5750; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Las Cruces [updated July 10, 2022]
Roswell Daily Record. The link takes you to a form where you can submit a letter. There were no word limits posted, but email and phone contact info was provided at this link where clarification can be sought.
Silver City–[updated July 10, 2022]
Hobbs News-Sun. Covering Lea County and southeast New Mexico. For questions regarding letters to the editor in the Hobbs News-Sun, email the editor.
Carlsbad, Artesia and All of Eddy County
Carlsbad Current-Argus. Serving as the local news source for Carlsbad, Artesia, Loving, and all of Eddy County, New Mexico, since 1889. The link above takes you to a page where letters and guest articles can be posted.
Alamogordo Daily News. No guidelines were posted on the paper’s website, but contact information for the editor is: Duane Barbati, Editor. (575) 437-7120 ext.7134. email@example.com
Plus some additional NM Media Outlets
- Artesia Daily Press – 300 word limit – Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- De Baca County News (Fort Sumner) – be brief and include telephone number – Email to email@example.com
- Deming Headlight – 225 word limit – Click to submit here >>
- Desert Exposure (Las Cruces) – be brief – Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Edgewood Independent – be brief – Email to email@example.com
- El Defensor-Chieftain (Socorro, NM) – 250 word limit – Click to submit here >>
- Farmington Daily Times – 400 word limit – Click to submit here >>
- Gallup Independent – 500 word limit – Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hidalgo County Herald (Lordsburg) – be brief and include first and last name, and telephone number – Email to email@example.com
- Las Vegas Optic – 250 word limit – Click to submit here >>
- Lincoln County News – be brief – Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Los Alamos Monitor – 250 word limit – Click to submit here >>
- Quay County Sun (Tucumcari) – 500 word limit – Click to submit here >>
- Rio Grande Sun (Española) – 250 word limit – Click to submit here >>
- Rio Rancho Observer – 500 word limit – Email to email@example.com
- Ruidoso News – 225 word limit – Click to submit here >>
- Santa Fe New Mexican – 150 word limit – Click to submit here >>
- Sierra County Sentinel – 250 word limit – Click to submit here >>
- Silver City Daily Press – 250 word limit – Click to submit here >>
- Silver City Sun-News – 300 word limit – Click to submit here >>
- Taos News – 250 word limit – Click to submit here >>
- The Eastern New Mexico News (Clovis) – be brief – Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Valencia County News Bulletin (Belen) – 250 word limit – Click to submit here >>