Imagine being escorted onto the field at Camp Randall during a break in the action of a Wisconsin Badgers football game. It’s the third quarter, so the student section has finally filled, bringing the audience to a capacity crowd of around 80,000 people.

An announcer hands you a microphone. Your name appears on the scoreboard. And for the next minute or two, you tell the world what you think about President Donald Trump, the Republican tax bill, or the race for governor.

The scenario may be far-fetched. (And the student section might drown you out with boos if they disagreed with your opinion).

Yet in terms of the size of the audience being reached, speaking to a packed stadium is roughly the equivalent of having a letter to the editor published in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Writing a letter might not be as exciting for sports fans as stepping into the spotlight on the gridiron. But it’s still one of the best ways to engage and influence your community and leaders.

Tens of thousands of people read the State Journal in print every day, and many more visit our website, madison.com, or view our content on social media.

We like to keep the debate civil on the pages of our newspaper. So you won’t have to worry about being interrupted or subjected to name-calling.

During the last year alone, about 1,185 people, mostly from Wisconsin, have written more than 1,700 letters to the editor that appeared on these pages. We thank and honor each and every letter writer today by publishing his or her name in the Sunday newspaper and online.

Writing a letter to the editor might seem old-fashioned to the younger set, who often seem glued to their digital devices. But when your letter appears in the paper of record in the seat of state government, many of the most involved and community-spirited citizens will see what you think, including political, civic and business leaders.

And because we post every letter online, your thoughts about gun control, the prison system or bike trails could go viral on social media. Occasionally, a letter to the editor becomes one of the most read items on madison.com.

We know letters to the editor are popular in print because they elicit lots of thought and feedback. And generations of loyal subscribers have been reading letters from their fellow citizens for most of the State Journal’s 178-year history.

If you haven’t sent us a letter to the editor in the past, give it a try. Unlike Facebook and other sites that tend to feed users only opinions they agree with, our Editorial Page and online platforms always will offer a diverse mix of views. That includes political opinions from the left, right and everywhere in between.

Given the location of our State Journal offices in the Democratic stronghold of Madison, we receive a lot more liberal than conservative or centrist views. Yet we go out of our way to publish ideas we haven’t seen or heard before, and we give preference to publishing letters from readers who disagree with our own staff editorials.

To submit a letter for publication, send 200 words to wsjopine@madison.com. Or you can drop a paper letter in the mail addressed to Letters to the Editor / Wisconsin State Journal / P.O. Box 8058 / Madison, WI 53708. (Sometimes on Saturdays we publish only letters we receive via the Postal Service in a feature we call “Snail Mail Saturday.”)

No matter how you direct your letter to us, please include your full name, which will be published with your opinion. Please also include your address and phone number, which will only be used for verification purposes.

Most important: Don’t feel bad or get discouraged if your letter isn’t published. Just try again later when another strong, clever or insightful idea crosses your mind. We receive more than 10,000 letters to the editor each year, so only about 1 in 5 make it into print and onto our website. And we generally limit individuals to no more than one letter per month.

Keep trying and your name will soon appear in the paper next to some of the good people we honor today across more than two pages of newsprint.

Milfred is editorial page editor for the State Journal: smilfred@madison.com and @ScottMilfred.

11
1
0
0
0

Scott Milfred is editorial page editor for Wisconsin State Journal.