HOW TO WRITE AN OP-ED: THE TOPIC
Before you sit down to write, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why now? Op-ed articles should have a news peg.
- Why me? Expertise, personal experience, insider or local knowledge.
- What will my article add to the table? The most successful op-eds showcase unique points of view.
- Do you need inspiration? Check out the Topics of Interest
HITTING THE NAIL ON THE HEAD
You should be able to summarize your argument in one single sentence.
It can be an affirmation, such as in these examples:
- “Post Soviet Russia needs its children”
- “All the money in the world, especially the billions the U.S. borrows from China, can’t buy good judgement”
Common practice has it that the end should simply re-state your opinion. In addition to reinforcing your opinion, we believe that an op-ed can also raise additional, thought-provoking questions:
- “What is more disturbing, not to know one’s error, or to repeat one’s mistake?“
- Is democracy the new Cronus? Will freedom of expression be the sacrifice necessary to maintain the power of the myth?
- Beginning. Lede, news hook. Context (who, what, where, when, why).
- Middle. Develop your thesis. Include examples, statistics, interactive graphics, etc.
- End. What do you propose to improve the situation? After reading your article, one idea should stick.
- Eloquent, but not technical. Op-ed articles should not be colloquial, nor should they use excessive technical terms.
- Global audience. ROOSTERGNN has a global audience. Establish your context so that a reader anywhere in the world can understand your argument.
- Length and web format. Recommended word count: 500-700 words. If you can break up the text to include bullet points, lists, phrases in bold, the web readers will appreciate it. (Attention spans are limited…).
- Images. Graphics, images, and multimedia content is advantageous. For a guide on finding images, click here.
- More tips on op-ed writing, basic op-ed structure, ledes and news hooks by The Op-ed Project.
- “A Few Tips on Opinion Article Writing” by Andrew Leigh, who has written over 100 op-eds.
- “How To Write Op-Ed Columns” by The Earth Institute at Columbia University. Includes op-ed submission guidelines for over 100 U.S. newspapers.
- “How to Write an Op-Ed Article” by David Jarmul, Duke University.
- “And Now a Word from Op-Ed” by David Shipley, Op-Ed Editor for The New York Times.
- “How To Read a Column” by William Safire, The New York Times.