How To: Get Your Op-Ed Published

Did you know that over 80 percent of the nation's op-eds are written by men? Open any newspaper from the Wall Street Journal to The New York Times and it's clear who's dominating the national conversation. The nonprofit Op-ed Project wants to change that by getting more women and minorities to weigh in on debates that matter. We teamed up with them to learn more about how to diversify the bylines in our nation's newspapers.

1) Write what you know. Whether you're a teacher espousing edible school gardens or a small business owner debating a new tax, own your expertise. Leverage your experience to offer a unique vantage point on a current event or to raise an overlooked issue.

2) Know what you want to say. The foundation of your argument is your thesis. What are you really trying to say? Your thesis can be explicit or implied, but be sure you are clear from the outset on your fundamental point. Your thesis should be supported by your argument, which should include primary sources and first-hand evidence. Try to have at least three points to support your argument and have evidence and a conclusion for each point. And don't forget the power of a compelling introduction and conclusion, which leads us to our next point.

3) Use ledes and hooks to grab your reader's attention. A lede is what will get your reader's attention and the hook is the timely, "newsworthy" component that makes your argument relevant. Be audacious but be sure you have compelling evidence to support your argument. The Op-ed Projects offers these tips for creating a good lede: use the news, tell a dramatic anecdote, turn conventional wisdom on end, use wit and irony to point out a contradiction, use an anniversary, use a major new study, and don't be afraid to get personal.

4) Pitch it. Pitching an article can be intimidating. Break down the process and it will be less so. First, answer these questions: Why is this story relevant right now? Why should people care in the first place? And why are you the best person to write this piece? Once you're clear on those questions, take the time to map out a brief pitch that outlines your fundamental idea and relevant credentials along with the text of the article in the body of an email. Be sure to follow up. Even if the editor says no, it could be the beginning of a conversation that leads to yes.

Photo (cc) by Flickr user kruemi

This post originally appeared on, as part of GOOD's collaboration with the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or submit your own idea today.

Screenshot via (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

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