Support Marketplace Fairness in Your Local Media

Members of Congress and their staff keep a close eye on local and regional media outlets, because it helps them keep their fingers on the "pulse" of their districts and states. You can use a well-crafted letter to the editor or opinion editorial ("op-ed") piece published in your local newspaper to grab the attention of a staff person or legislator, and highlight the impact that marketplace fairness would have in your community. Letters to the editor are usually written in response to an article, either in support or opposition of the premise of the story, while op-eds are generally written independently of other news in the paper.

You can read examples by city officials here.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor are generally short pieces, of about 250 words or less, that are in direct response to something recently published in the paper. You should closely monitor the news in your paper and look for opportunities to respond to an article while highlighting marketplace fairness and its importance in your community. You should send your letter to the editor as soon as possible after the story to which you are responding is published - preferably the same day. Prepare in advance for this quick response by looking up the submission guidelines for your local news outlets and keeping them on hand. You can use the below template to draft a letter to the editor of your local paper:

Introduction: 25-50 words
"Thank you for your interesting article of [date] titled [ ]. The author reported on [insert a few statements about the content of the article. For example, for an article about online sales tax, it may be "the author reported on the collection of sales tax in our city."]"

Content: 100-150 words
This is where you express either disagreement or something you believe has been left out of the discussion. Use this space to argue your position, or to share information about the specific services that could be boosted by passage of marketplace fairness, or the businesses in your community that would be positively impacted (or in the case of online sellers, not harmed) by marketplace fairness.

Conclusion/Call to Action: 25-50 words
This portion should include what change you want to see, and who you would like to take action. For example, "We call on [name of your representative] to work to pass marketplace fairness legislation before the end of this year."

Op-Eds

Op-eds are slightly longer than letters to the editor; generally they run about 750 words or less. Op-eds do not need to be in response to a specific article in the paper, but they should be timely and in connection to current events. You can increase your op-eds chances of publication by using on these tips:

  • Focus on a single point, and put it at the beginning of your op-ed. 
  • Establish your credibility as a local leader.
  • Use plain language and your personal voice, rather than "academic" language or jargon.
  • Make it personal - be sure to relate your op-ed to the specific value of marketplace fairness and increased funds for city services in your community.
  • End strong, with a call to action for Congress to pass marketplace fairness.