Writing an Op-Ed

Another way of making your voice heard is by writing an op-ed to be run on a newspaper’s opinion page. Doing this offers an opportunity to present an extended argument and should be local and timely. Unlike editorials, op-eds are written by members of the community rather than by journalists and present a point of view with much greater detail and persuasion than a short letter allows.

Careful planning will increase your chances of placing an op-ed. In addition to submitting an article, mount a campaign to get it published. Be sure to follow up within a week to ensure that it was received and to answer questions the editor may have.

Before you submit an op-ed, you will want to:

  • Obtain guidelines. Call and ask the editorial page editor or op-ed editor for the newspaper’s op-ed policies, e.g., submission guidelines such as length (usually 700-800 words).
  • Localize it. Adopt a local angle in your op-ed, even on a national issue. Since you’re probably competing for space with nationally syndicated columnists, a local angle can make your article more appealing.

Most papers require exclusivity; you may only submit your op-ed to the publication. If they decline to print it, you are free to submit the piece to another publication.