Write a Letter to the Editor about harmful algal blooms

Write a Letter to the Editor about harmful algal blooms

We’ve teamed up with Food Water Watch Ohio and the Humane Society of the United States to offer some common-sense strategies to clean up lake Erie by addressing the manure and fertilizer that cause toxic algae blooms. But we need your help to make sure local politicians feel the pressure to act.

Click here to submit a letter responding to the Plain Dealer's call for action – and demand the Governor and Legislature submit a clean up plan right away!Decision-makers regularly read letters to the editor to see what residents are talking about.

You don't need to write a lot. Your letter should be no more than a few sentences and it should reiterate the main message, which is:

  • Rather than being geared toward voluntary compliance plans and certification to be able to apply fertilizers (like S.B. 150), new legislation should set up enforceable and measurable standards for synthetic fertilizer and manure spreading.
  • In order to protect our waters from factory farm pollution, Ohio should implement clear standards for handling manure — including prohibiting manure from being spread on frozen or snow-covered ground. The previous legislation lacks any such standards and even omitted manure spreading entirely.
  • The previous legislation failed to set up a mechanism by which to test its effectiveness, namely — the soil. If the soil is high in phosphorus, chances are, it's causing a problem downstream.
  • Enforceable soil testing must be a component of new legislation in order to ensure that it addresses the root of the problem. Given that the legislation was largely based on education and voluntary compliance, it fell dangerously short of enumerating any course of action should a farm have high levels of phosphorus in the soil — the root cause of the algae blooms that impacted nearly a half a million people’s drinking water."

Also, you can use these tips from  the Food & Water Watch in Ohio:

Letter to the Editor

An LTE is written in response to an article in a newspaper. It either expresses agreement or disagreement with the article. It is usually around 150 to 250 words. LTEs cannot be written in response to newswire stories (i.e. Associated Press or Reuters stories) unless they are printed in a local paper—in which case you can write a letter to that paper, not the newswire itself. This is because these stories are distributed over the wire and picked up by numerous publications. LTEs must be directed at one newspaper that published the story and should be written within a few days of the paper publishing that story. LTEs written by local citizens are most likely to be published.

Quick Tips for Writing a Successful Letter to the Editor

1. Follow the Submission Guidelines and Keep it Simple—Your odds of publication are best if your letter is short and direct. Most LTEs are around two or three short, simple paragraphs. Guidelines are usually posted online under the newspaper’s opinion section.

2. Focus on One Key Point—Don’t deviate too much or you might lose your audience.

3. Present Yourself as a Knowledgeable Source—Feel free to briefly explain your work on related campaigns so that readers have a reason to trust your thoughts and opinions.

4. Your Letter Should Stand on its Own—Even if you’re responding to another letter or article, don’t assume readers have them. Provide necessary background information as briefly and simply as possible (i.e. “In the August 22nd article entitled Water Privatization Increases, the author stated that…”).

5. Carefully Support Your Opinions with Evidence—Numbers, statistics, and cited facts will make your argument more persuasive. Just be careful not to overuse them, as they can get confusing.

6. Don’t Use Jargon—Using technical terms (i.e. HAACP regulations, open ocean aquaculture, desalination) can confuse readers.

7. Include a Strong Closing—Leave readers with a clear understanding of your message by reiterating your main point at the end of the letter.

8. Edit and Proofread Before Submitting—Ask someone to edit for factual accuracy before editing for grammar/newsworthiness.

9. Include Your Contact Information—Put your name, title, and location at the bottom of your letter.

10. Submit Positive LTEs Too— Don’t hesitate to write an LTE praising a story that gets your issues right and reiterating why the issue is important to the community.

11. Don’t allow others to copy and submit your LTE verbatim— Template LTEs can backfire. Instead, cultivate a few volunteers with unique voices and provide them with messaging help if they are interested in drafting and submitting their own letters.