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Spreading the Word: Op-Eds and Letters to the Editor

Getting the word out through the available media is an important part of supporting innocence protection reforms in Pennsylvania.  There are small papers all over the Commonwealth that would support an op-ed or guest editorial where a larger publication may reject it.

When composing letters, there are a few guidelines to follow:
  • Keep it BRIEF!  Most papers will only consider letters that are 200 words or fewer.
  • Respond directly either to new news or an article published in the previous day or two.
  • DON’T DEMONIZE.  Our Project is not about blame; our message is that wrongful convictions aren’t about bad actors but  unreliable methods.
  • Focus on one important point (don’t try to address separate issues in one letter).  Some facts on wrongful convictions and points for letters are compiled here as Points for Op-eds and Letters.
  • Point people to a source for more information or to engage in action, preferably the Pennsylvania Innocence Project and this website.
  • E-mail your letter in the body of the email (never send unsolicited attachments ) and put “Letter re: your topic or article name ” in the subject line.
  • Include your address and daytime phone number for verification.

Many papers prefer on-line submissions, so check the paper’s web-site.  Here are a few that have online forms for submission:

Op-eds are simply longer letters.  Many papers will accept op-eds submitted by readers; just call the editorial board or check on the website for their individual guidelines.  We prepared a Sample Op-Ed covering the major issues in the proposals for reference.  (You should choose just one area to focus on.)

After submitting a letter, follow up in a few days with a polite letter if you do not hear anything. If the letter is published, please let us know through Facebook, or by sending us an e-mail.