If you're concerned about an issue, chances are you aren't alone. Raise awareness and connect with likeminded others by writing a letter to the editor, calling a local radio show, or penning an op-ed. Suggest story angles to producers and provide background information. And don't forget to commend them for good coverage. Here's a contact list and tips for engaging your local media.
Write a letter to the editor
- Try and link your letter to the date and title of a previous news story — for dailies, within 48 hours of its publication.
- Keep it short (350 words max) and specific — one main message.
- Make your main point in the first paragraph, progressing to the least important information at the end.
- Be straightforward and factual.
- Include your name, address, and daytime phone number.
Phone a radio call-in show
- Look for opportunities to re-frame the topic from an environmental point of view. For example, "Should citizens be compensated for flood damage?" can include "What is government doing about climate change, which increases the intensity of these weather events?"
- Phone show producers to suggest topics and potential guests.
Pen an op-ed
Opinion editorials are short essays on topical issues. They're harder to get published, but they can have a powerful impact. Check this list for contact information and writing guidelines. Here are some writing tips:
- Narrow your topic and be brief (700 words maximum).
- Support your position with references to expert studies and reports.
- Think about your readers — try an usual angle or localize the issue.
- Contact your paper first to see if they like your angle (include your name, address and daytime phone number).
- Approach a prominent community member or expert to see if they would like to co-author or even write a submission.
- Your local media are powerful allies for change. Get to know their areas of interest and the people who run them.
- Consider all media outlets, including community papers, arts and entertainment weeklies, magazines, professional or trade papers, faith group and union newsletters, club and organizational bulletins, student radio and newspapers, cultural papers, community cable and alternative media. They all have audiences!