How to Write a Guest Editorial

By Gina Story

One of the great things about living in America is the right to free speech. If there’ s something on your mind and you want to get it out sit down and write a guest editorial to share your thoughts with the readers of your local newspaper.

How to Write a Guest Editorial

Look in the newspaper you will be submitting your editorial to and find out what the requirements for a guest editorial are. There are probably word limits and/or topic requirements that you will need to know in order to give your editorial a better chance of being published.

Brainstorm about what you want to say, and make a list of the points you want to cover. Ideally you should choose a topic that has either local or national interest. Newspaper editors typically give preference to editorials that are about local issues.

Write your letter beginning with a brief background of the subject you are writing about. For example if you are writing in reference to an article written in the paper, write something like: After reading the article by John Smith on the budget proposed by the city I was struck by the amount of money being delegated to…” If possible in parenthesis include the date of the article, this will make the editors job a little easier and he/she may give preference to your letter especially if they are running behind when putting the editorial page together.

Count the amount of words you have written, if it is over the limit by more than 25 words read through your letter and look for places to cut words. Words such as “that” are often unnecessary. If a sentence makes sense without a certain word, take it out.

Spell check your editorial. An editorial with misspelled words looses credibility.

Sign your editorial with your first and last name. Most newspapers will not print anonymous editorials, or editorials with partial names. Also include your address and phone number. The phone number allows the editor to contact you to verify you were the one who wrote the editorial, which is a requirement for most newspapers. For editorials sent to larger newspapers, you may be contacted by a clerk to verify your identity. Also include any credentials you may have pertaining to the subject you are writing about.

E-mail your editorial to the newspaper. Do not attach the document in a file, copy and paste it into the body of the e-mail. Letters may be sent through the U.S. mail or hand-delivered but editors will give preference to letters they don’t have to retype.

Call to confirm receipt of your letter two days after you sent it if you have not heard from anyone.

Tip

Don’t call daily to find out when your editorial will be published, this will just annoy the editor and make him/her less likely to publish your piece. Do not copy letters from Web sites and send them to the editor. An editor or clerk well versed in their job can spot them almost immediately and will disregard the letter. Don’t personally attack a person, even an elected official, in your letter. An editor would rather disregard your letter than open him and the newspaper up for a libel law suit.

About the Author

GIna Story worked at The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News and at the Lenoir News-Topic, as well as doing freelance writing for advertising companies at time. During her nine years as a professional newspaper writer and columnist, Story wrote feature articles on home design, fashion, gardening and many other home and garden topics.