Tuesday, December 3, 2013

So You Want to Write an Op-Ed?

     I recently had the exciting opportunity of publishing an op-ed in The Los Angles TimesI am deeply grateful for the amazing collaboration with my co-author Shauna Shames.   I am also incredibly grateful to Linda Forman-Naval for her political astuteness and to the Scholars Strategy Network for being the premier place to bridge the gap between academic research and policy decision-making.

     I hope you are thinking of op-ed writing!   You have valuable opinions that deserve to be heard. More voices of people from diverse backgrounds need to share their ideas through op-ed writing.  According to the Op-Ed Project, men are 80-90% of contributors to key opinion forums; 84% of T.V. pundits on Sunday morning talk shows; and 87% of Wikipedia contributors.  More women's voices need to be in these spaces! 

     So how do you publish an op-ed?  My first suggestion is to get some formal training.  I am an alumna of the Op-Ed Project and Progressive Women’sVoices.  Both are training programs that empower women to find their voices and give them the technical skills to share their message.  I can’t emphasize enough how crucial these programs were for me to demystify the media pitching process, and to believe in the possibility of actually getting my voice heard.   If you are currently in school, see if you can take a writing class.  If you are a young professional, many professional membership organizations offer media training opportunities. 

Own Your Expertise

     You are an expert!  Believe it!  Own it! Each of us has our own story.  Due to our various life experiences, we see the world in a unique way.  We have different ways of understanding what is happening around us.  You are never too old or too young to write an op-ed.  Who better to comment on higher education debate than a college student? When you write your op-ed, make sure to proudly declare what makes you a credible thought leader on this topic. 

Find Your News Hook

     One of the most important aspects of what makes op-ed writing different than other forms of writing is timeliness.  A media outlet wants to publish op-eds that are relevant to what is currently happening in the news.  How do you connect your idea to what’s going on in the world at this specific moment?   I published my first op-ed earlier this year.  I felt very strongly about the article giving advice to young women in Princeton’s and Harvard’s campus newspapers.  I took the opportunity to write a similar article for the newspaper for my alma mater.  Similarly, Shauna and I used the hook of JFK’s anniversary.  Timeliness is key!

Try, Try, and Try Again

      I first took the Op-Ed Project training in 2011.  I have been pitching op-eds for about two years.  I have had many rejections, but I didn’t give up.  You need to just start writing, try pitching, and be resilient. 

     I am always eager for guest bloggers to contribute to Women on Top.  You can write about any topic of your choice, broadly related to the power of young women and girls.  Please email me oleary.pamela@gmail.com if you are interested in writing. 

     Happy writing!  Your voice is valuable and deserves to be heard! 

No comments:

Post a Comment