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Write and pitch
powerful op-eds
2015.08.15
AAJA Media Institute
San Francisco, CA
Speakers
Sharon Pian Chan
Former Op-Ed Editor
Seattle Times
@sharonpianchan
Jeff Yang
Opinion columnist
Wall Street Journa...
PITCHING NEWS
VS. OP-ED
News Op-ed
Less work.
Reporter writes story.
More work. You write
and pitch op-ed.
Less control.
Reporter controls
story.
...
WHAT IS AN OP-ED?
¡  Editorial: The position
of the newspaper,
always written by
the editorial board.
No byline. There is
no such thing as ...
BY ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS…
…and daughter of a cancer victim
AN OP-ED IS…
A knowledgeable argument
AN OP-ED IS NOT…
¡ Community news
¡ A progress report
¡ A news release
¡ A rant
¡ A response to a previously publishe...
A RESPONSE TO A PUBLISHED
ARTICLE IS A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Striking a chord with the R-word
April 22, 2014
Regarding "Rac...
YOU ARE ALREADY
AN EXPERT
¡ You are uniquely authorized to
write a guest column about
something
¡ Example: Are you an im...
OP-ED IDEAS
¡ News event relates to your mission
¡ Help someone your nonprofit serves
write/pitch an op-ed
¡ Secondary ...
Tesla doesn’t deserve special treatment
Guest contributors
As automobile dealers in Houston, we compete for business every...
Mullan’s addiction and his
actions are responsible for the
death of two grandparents …
Sadly, Mullan is not alone in his
s...
I’ve worked at the same fast-
food restaurant for five years. In
all that time, my hourly wage
has risen 50 cents.
Fernand...
Parents who hurt their children
aren’t all monsters. I know. I
was one of them
Patty Duke guest column
Compassion and hope...
WRITING AN OP-ED
OP-ED STRUCTURE
¡ Short lede, ~100
words
¡ Main argument
¡ Research
supporting
argument
¡ Propose change
¡ Repeat mai...
ADVICE ON OP-ED
WRITING
¡ Seattle Times op-ed guidelines:
http://seati.ms/opedguide
¡ Writing tips from Alex Lo, columni...
Avoid bad writing
Washington Post Opinion’s list of
200 journalism cliches
http://www.washingtonpost.com/
news/opinions/wp...
PITCHING AN
OP-ED
WHO PUBLISHES OP-EDS
http://www.ccmc.org/sites/default/files/
Top100op-eds.pdf
Easier
• Local ethnic print publications: R...
PITCHING: STAND OUT
FROM THE CROWD
¡ Read the submission guidelines and
follow them
¡ Have an opinion and state it force...
MAKE AN OP-ED
EDITOR HAPPY
¡ Don’t submit to multiple publications at once
¡ Don’t demand to hear back the same day
¡ D...
REPEAT:
You don’t have to be Angelina Jolie
….But it doesn’t hurt?
Think about how to frame
yourself to maximize your
rele...
Email excerpt from op-ed writer
Arsalan Iftikhar @TheMuslimGuy:
SOCIAL MEDIA COUNTS
Please let me know when the
article go...
MORE TIPS FOR
NONPROFITS
¡ Recruit a writer to volunteer or to join your board: a
public relations professional, public a...
NO DOES NOT
MEAN NEVER.
NO MEANS NOT
RIGHT NOW.
SCREW IT. PUBLISH
IT YOURSELF.
Recommended reading:
“Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon
http://austinkleon.com/show-your-work/
QUESTIONS?
COME UP WITH AN
OP-ED IDEA
1.  What are you arguing for?
2.  Why do people need to read about
it right now?
3.  What is yo...
LUNCH
LET’S HEAR YOUR
PITCH
Sharon Pian Chan
Associate Opinions Editor / Digital
Seattle Times
@sharonpianchan
Jeff Yang
Opinion columnist
Wall Street...
THANK YOU!
WHAT WENT WELL?
WHAT COULD HAVE GONE BETTER?
How to write an op-ed
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How to write an op-ed

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This presentation was given at the AAJA Media Institute in San Francisco by Jeff Yang and Sharon Pian Chan.

Published in: News & Politics
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How to write an op-ed

  1. 1. Write and pitch powerful op-eds 2015.08.15 AAJA Media Institute San Francisco, CA
  2. 2. Speakers Sharon Pian Chan Former Op-Ed Editor Seattle Times @sharonpianchan Jeff Yang Opinion columnist Wall Street Journal, CNN @originalspin
  3. 3. PITCHING NEWS VS. OP-ED
  4. 4. News Op-ed Less work. Reporter writes story. More work. You write and pitch op-ed. Less control. Reporter controls story. More control. You shape your message. Topic benefits from neutral observer Topic benefits from your perspective
  5. 5. WHAT IS AN OP-ED?
  6. 6. ¡  Editorial: The position of the newspaper, always written by the editorial board. No byline. There is no such thing as a “guest editorial.” ¡  Staff or syndicated column: Opinion pieces written by staff or syndicated writers. Byline will say “staff column” or “syndicated column” ¡  Op-ed or Guest Column: Opinion pieces written by members of the community. Byline may say “Special to” or “Guest columnist.” ¡  Letters to the editor: Responses to previously published news or opinion articles
  7. 7. BY ANGELINA JOLIE, ACTRESS… …and daughter of a cancer victim
  8. 8. AN OP-ED IS… A knowledgeable argument
  9. 9. AN OP-ED IS NOT… ¡ Community news ¡ A progress report ¡ A news release ¡ A rant ¡ A response to a previously published article ¡ A fundraising letter
  10. 10. A RESPONSE TO A PUBLISHED ARTICLE IS A LETTER TO THE EDITOR Striking a chord with the R-word April 22, 2014 Regarding "Race continues to play a role in American politics" (Page B10, Sunday), I just read Leonard Pitts Jr.'s column indicating that race is why President Obama is having so many problems with the Republican Party. The word "racist" is often used when someone does not agree with this president. I do not care for this president, not because of race, but because of his policies. …. William F. Schwartz, Pearland Pretty obvious Bill King and Leonard Pitts, in Sunday's editions, are really talking about the same thing. King's column, "Obamacare is faltering as GOP election issue" (Page B10) articulates the inability of many Republican lawmakers to offer anything other than resistance to almost every move the president makes, without offering alternatives, and Pitts' column highlights why this is so. … The bottom line is that these people hate the fact that there is a black man in the White House. Pitts calls it like it is. Mark Dennis, Houston
  11. 11. YOU ARE ALREADY AN EXPERT ¡ You are uniquely authorized to write a guest column about something ¡ Example: Are you an immigrant? You have a unique opinion about immigration reform
  12. 12. OP-ED IDEAS ¡ News event relates to your mission ¡ Help someone your nonprofit serves write/pitch an op-ed ¡ Secondary areas of expertise: your neighborhood, nonprofit management ¡ Work with experts, notable guests
  13. 13. Tesla doesn’t deserve special treatment Guest contributors As automobile dealers in Houston, we compete for business every day. We have to be competitive in our pricing, we have to offer good service, we have to be available for repairs or recalls, and we have to continue to earn trust to stay in business. There are automobile dealers across Texas in 300 communities doing the same thing we do every day. These dealers are often the major employers in the area and the major benefactors for the local hospital, schools and little leagues. And collectively, we are a powerful economic engine, pumping billions through the economic system of our great state…. By Mac DeLaup, president and managing partner of John Eagle Honda of Houston and chairman of the board of the Houston Automobile Dealers Association; Mike Smith, chairman of Russell & Smith Ford-Honda-Mazda and board member of HADA and the Texas Automobile Dealers Association.
  14. 14. Mullan’s addiction and his actions are responsible for the death of two grandparents … Sadly, Mullan is not alone in his struggle with addiction. David Coffey guest colum Mark Mullan has a treatable disease: addiction
  15. 15. I’ve worked at the same fast- food restaurant for five years. In all that time, my hourly wage has risen 50 cents. Fernando Cruz guest column Show respect for fast-food workers with sufficient pay
  16. 16. Parents who hurt their children aren’t all monsters. I know. I was one of them Patty Duke guest column Compassion and hope for parents who abuse
  17. 17. WRITING AN OP-ED
  18. 18. OP-ED STRUCTURE ¡ Short lede, ~100 words ¡ Main argument ¡ Research supporting argument ¡ Propose change ¡ Repeat main argument
  19. 19. ADVICE ON OP-ED WRITING ¡ Seattle Times op-ed guidelines: http://seati.ms/opedguide ¡ Writing tips from Alex Lo, columnist for the South China Morning Post: http://bit.ly/n3conoped ¡ Other submission guidelines: Just Google it
  20. 20. Avoid bad writing Washington Post Opinion’s list of 200 journalism cliches http://www.washingtonpost.com/ news/opinions/wp/2014/02/27/ the-outlook-list-of-things-we-do- not-say/
  21. 21. PITCHING AN OP-ED
  22. 22. WHO PUBLISHES OP-EDS http://www.ccmc.org/sites/default/files/ Top100op-eds.pdf Easier • Local ethnic print publications: Rafu Shimpo • Hyperlocal websites • Ethnic national websites: 8Asians.com • Business journals: Orange County Business Journal • National websites: Huffington Post Harder • Daily metropolitan newspapers • National newspapers
  23. 23. PITCHING: STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD ¡ Read the submission guidelines and follow them ¡ Have an opinion and state it forcefully ¡ Be pleasantly persistent ¡ Explain why you are the best person to write this, in 200 words or fewer ¡ Include a headshot > 200 KB
  24. 24. MAKE AN OP-ED EDITOR HAPPY ¡ Don’t submit to multiple publications at once ¡ Don’t demand to hear back the same day ¡ Don’t expect a commitment to publish on spec ¡ Don’t expect multiple rounds of editing and multiple last-minute changes ¡ Don’t call to double check whether we received it
  25. 25. REPEAT: You don’t have to be Angelina Jolie ….But it doesn’t hurt? Think about how to frame yourself to maximize your relevance and the likelihood of getting exposure Are there other people in your organization — or social network — whom you can ask to lend their relevance and notoriety?
  26. 26. Email excerpt from op-ed writer Arsalan Iftikhar @TheMuslimGuy: SOCIAL MEDIA COUNTS Please let me know when the article goes live and I will send out to my 30,000+ Facebook/ Twitter followers… Thanks again for this wonderful opportunity...Hope to do it again soon J Yours, Arsalan
  27. 27. MORE TIPS FOR NONPROFITS ¡ Recruit a writer to volunteer or to join your board: a public relations professional, public affairs consultant, former journalist ¡ Check whether a PR firm does pro bono work ¡ Join AAJA as an associate member and attend local/national events to build relationships: http://www.aaja.org/join-aaja/
  28. 28. NO DOES NOT MEAN NEVER. NO MEANS NOT RIGHT NOW.
  29. 29. SCREW IT. PUBLISH IT YOURSELF. Recommended reading: “Show Your Work” by Austin Kleon http://austinkleon.com/show-your-work/
  30. 30. QUESTIONS?
  31. 31. COME UP WITH AN OP-ED IDEA 1.  What are you arguing for? 2.  Why do people need to read about it right now? 3.  What is your unique perspective on it? 4.  What change do you want to see? Answer in complete sentences.
  32. 32. LUNCH
  33. 33. LET’S HEAR YOUR PITCH
  34. 34. Sharon Pian Chan Associate Opinions Editor / Digital Seattle Times @sharonpianchan Jeff Yang Opinion columnist Wall Street Journal, CNN @originalspin Replay presentation at bit.ly/opedaaja2015
  35. 35. THANK YOU! WHAT WENT WELL? WHAT COULD HAVE GONE BETTER?

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