Write an editorial

Op-eds are a great way of getting a message out and helping to shape public opinion. Op-eds can:

  • Help raise the Coalition's profile and credibility
  • Increase public awareness of important issues
  • mobilize public support

Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind when you're planning to write and submit an op-ed.

First, check the guidelines:

Most newspapers prefer op-ed pieces in the range of 600 to 800 words. You can click here and get a listing of submission guidelines for the largest papers in America. Get a sense of what the paper's editor will be looking for by being familiar with the other op-eds that they print every day. Try to have an angle that the editor would appreciate, (the more local the paper, the more local the focus should be).

Be Timely:

Keep up with the news and look for opportunities to work a local news angle into your article. Timing is key. The more current and relevant the topic, the better your chances of being published.

Stay focused:

Space is limited, so the fewer points you're trying to make, the better. If you can't work your main point into one or two sentences, then you need to refine it. Identify a few points that support your argument and build the article around them. Be clear about your position. Don't equivocate. Make an effort to anticipate and refute the arguments of your opponents.

Make your main point first:

Get to the point quickly and convince the reader that it's worth their time to read. Draw the readers in by making sure that the first paragraph catches their attention. When writing an op-ed, you state the conclusion first. Make your strongest point, and then spend the rest of the article supporting that point. Provide some initial background information, but don't let it overwhelm your article.

Explain why the reader should care:

Put yourself in the place of the reader looking at your article. At the end of every few paragraphs, ask yourself: "So what?". Then answer the question. What will your suggestions accomplish? What should they mean to the reader? Offer specific recommendations. Look for great examples that illustrate your argument. Use personal anecdotes and humor to draw the reader in. Help educate the readers without being preachy.

Don't be verbose:

Use short sentences and paragraphs. Your writing should be crisp, clear and to the point. Look at the style in the papers you wish to contribute to. They're writing to be read by the largest audience possible, not get people lost in a sea of words. Use active, not passive, language.

Make your ending memorable:

As mentioned, it's important to have a strong opening paragraph, but it's also important to close well. You want a short, strong closing paragraph that neatly, and memorably, summarizes your argument, (perhaps even cleverly restating the point you made in the opening paragraph). Restate your position and call people to action.

Provide some "about you" info:

Provide your standard contact information, as well as a one or two work sentence describing who you are and what you do, as well as any relevant experience you think the editor should be ware of. For example: "John Q. Citizen is a Anytown, USA based activist with Christian Coalition".

Click here and here for listings of newspaper contact information from all across the country.