Letters to the Editor and Op-Eds

Letters to the editor are typically submitted in response to a particular story. They are more timely and shorter. Word counts range depending on the publication, but 150-200 words is usually ideal. Look for the ‘Opinion’ or ‘Contact Us’ section in the paper or on their website for submission guidelines.

Tips:

  • With a limited word count, focus on one important point or argument.
  • Check your facts and don’t use exaggerations or insults.
  • Clearly explain why people need to care or what an impact will be.
  • Email your letter in the body of a message, not as an attachment.
  • Start your letter with “Re: Title of Article, date published”
  • Persevere! Don’t feel disheartened if your letter isn’t published. Newspapers get many submissions and can’t print them all.

Sample topics:

  • Keep access to health care equal for all Canadians, based on what people need rather than what they can pay
  • A personal story of how public health care helped you or someone you know
  • A personal story of how private, paid-for care disappointed you or someone you know
  • Ideas for improving our system that don’t involve privatization

Op-ed refers to opposite editorial, meaning the page next the newspaper’s editorial and columns. Op-ed articles are longer, ranging from 600-700 words. They do not have to respond to a specific news item that has appeared in the paper. With limited space and many submissions, the most timely, relevant and compelling submissions are chosen.

Tips:

  • Make your point or argument clearly and early on in your submission.
  • Tell readers why they should care or describe the impact of an issue.
  • Demonstrate your argument with cited evidence or factual examples.
  • Explain why your opinion is important by noting your professional experience or personal connection to the subject matter.
  • Hook the readers with a compelling opening and wrap it up neatly with a conclusion.

Sample topics:

  • Privatized, for-profit health care will make inequalities worse between rich and poor
  • What’s at stake if Canada’s public health care system disappears
  • Examining evidence from similar countries, such as the United States, England and Australia
  • Alternative priorities and innovative ideas to reduce wait times, instead of privatization
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