Why write a letter to the editor?

Thank you to the 1,228 readers whose letters to the editor were published during 2020

Wisconsin State Journal editorial board Jan 3, 2021

Read online

Even in the digital age with countless social media sites available to the public, your daily newspaper is still the best and most impactful way to have your say and influence others — especially elected officials.

That’s because every letter to the editor that’s published in the Wisconsin State Journal lands in tens of thousands of people’s driveways across south-central Wisconsin with our printed edition.

Your letter to the editor also is posted on madison.com and across our digital platforms for many more people to see. The whole world can read your take on politics, the pandemic or any other issue that’s on your mind, from global conflicts to the latest debate at the state Capitol to whether your neighborhood needs sidewalks or a stop sign. Occasionally, a letter to the editor even goes viral.

And you can further expand your audience by sharing your published letter to the editor with friends and family on FacebookInstagramTwitter or anywhere else that you engage with others online.

Sending your view to the State Journal gets noticed in ways that other posts do not. Public officials and their staff read the State Journal. We know that because when a reader criticizes an alderman, state representative or U.S. senator, we often get a phone call or formal response. Sometimes the leader’s reaction is for publication. Sometimes it’s just to let our editors know what the elected official is thinking and why they took a controversial position on a bill or community project. Some staffers for state and national leaders have told us it’s part of their job to read the letters to the editor to gauge constituent views.

The State Journal has been publishing reader opinions for more than 180 years and counting. Like a town square, we strive to let everyone have his or her say in a lively and freewheeling way that encourages free speech while respecting civility and the facts.

Today we celebrate the more than 1,800 letters to the editor from 1,228 letter writers that appeared in print and online during 2020. We honor them by publishing the name of each author below. We thank every reader who contributed to the community conversation, and urge them to continue engaging in the coming year.

If you haven’t written a letter to the editor during the last year or maybe ever, give it a try. It’s easy and fun to see your name in print, and it’s good for others to know what you are thinking — even if they don’t agree or are skeptical. That’s how we all learn, by engaging and thinking harder and being challenged about our beliefs. You might learn you were right all along. Or you might rethink things, given more information.

Just send about 200 words to wsjopine@madison.com, and please include your address and phone number for verification purposes. You also can submit a letter online at go.madison.com/lettertoeditor. We get about 10,000 submissions a year. So only about 1-in-5 are published.

Don’t get discouraged if your first letter isn’t published. Just send something else a few weeks later. Some of our most energetic letter writers submit multiple submissions every week, even though we limit publication to no more than once per month per writer. That way, more people get to have their say.

Make it your New Year’s resolution this year to let your community know what you’re thinking by sending a letter to the editor to the Wisconsin State Journal. We appreciate all those who did so during 2020. Their names appear below and on subsequent pages.