Getting an Op-Ed Piece Published

You can find contact info for all the major media in your state at: http://www.usnpl.com/
“Op-ed” stands for “opposite the editorial page.” In larger papers like the New York Times, the op-ed page is the page after the newspaper’s editorials and letters to the editor. Smaller papers may combine all three on one page: editorials, op-ed’s, and letters to the editor.

Generally, there are two types of op-ed pieces. One is a column by syndicated writers such as George Will, Arianna Huffington or A.M. Rosenthal. Newspapers “subscribe” to wire services which send out these columns. The second type of op-ed, sometimes indistinguishable from a letter to the editor, is from a local writer.

You should ask the op-ed editor (or, in the case of smaller newspapers, the editorial page editor) if you can write an op-ed, sometimes called a “guest editorial.” Sometimes people newspaper staff are given this opportunity in lieu of the newspaper running its own editorial. While it varies from paper to paper, an op-ed is usually about 750 words.

Below is a sample letter in EPIC format.

Engage:

To the Editors:

I read yesterday’s/Friday’s announcement of the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize winner with a mixture of joy and grief.  I am thrilled that we are celebrating the peace-building achievements of ______, a person who has ____ for so many, and continues to _____.

Problem:

But this prize also makes me keenly aware that there are thousands of peace-builders in our own backyard, struggling with minimal funding against a rising tide of violence in our nation – where homicide and suicide are the second and third leading cause of death among people aged 15-19[1], and incarceration rates are by far the highest in the world.  We seem to have a very difficult time treating each other with basic dignity and care, and the only winners are prison-builders, gun-makers, and undertakers.

Inform About the Solution:

However, there are also thousands of rays of hope – people working in our own neighborhoods,people bringing communication and healing tools into schools, jails, and domestic disputes – and about teachers who are bringing conflict-resolution skills into classrooms – and restorative circle facilitators,  who bring understanding and healing when someone has been harmed by the actions of another.  Many of these “local laureates” and their bare-bones services would receive much-needed funding through passage of the Youth PROMISE Act – a bi-partisan bill currently before both houses of the US Congress.  (H.R. 1318 and S. 1307).

Call to Action:

 I call on Senators ____ and _____, and Representative _____ to give this powerful peace-building measure their utmost support, and I urge my fellow citizens to get to know some of these “local laureates” – maybe there are opportunities to volunteer, to help build peace in the lives of our youth, to improve our own skills at communication and violence reduction – which would be a substantial prize in itself.

Sincerely,

Your name (they will probably want your addess, day and night phone, and e-mail address.

(The writer is active in The Peace Alliance, www.peacealliance.org)

Talking Points: Click here for material you can review for writing points you can use, in your own words, to write.