Thank you for writing an opinion piece (Op-Ed) for your newspaper. This is very important for our efforts because we understand that the State Board of Education has been presented a number of our messages before but still stands by its curriculum despite it being factually misleading, contrary to student skill requirements and destructive to student development.
What is an Op-Ed?
Op-Ed is short for "Opinion Editorial". Op-Eds are printed near the paper's editorial section and represents submissions from people in the community or who have a personal connection to issues in the news.
Op-Eds are most likely to be printed if the author (you!) has a personal or professional connection to the issue; therefore please make that connection clear in your Op-Ed, whether you are a parent of Texas student(s), whether you have been discriminated against, or worse hurt, because of misinformation/stereotypes as is being promoted in the curriculum.
An Op-Ed is around 600 but no more than 650 words (that is the Austin American-Statesman limit). Here are tips to writing your Op-Ed:
- Check out op-eds that have already been published at your target news outlet. This will help you get a sense of overall tone and style, and what the outlet looks for. Here is a link to the Statesman's opinion section. (Here is one Op-Ed example
- Include your name, address, phone number, a short description of what you do for a living and anything else the newspaper should know about you that's relevant to the topic of your column.
- Compelling op-eds convince readers with emotion and story, not just facts and figures. Try not to be overly preachy, technical or boring. Remember, op-eds are not news stories or investigative pieces. They are opinion pieces, and the reader should be able to easily identify your perspective.
- Speak to your audience (the outlet's average reader -- Texans) and use accessible language. Use examples and concepts people can relate to.
- Timing is everything -- for us the submissions are best if they can be done this Thursday (11/8/2018). Usually it is best to submit op-eds within 24-72 hours maximum after the relevant news hits. If you're writing about a recent event, you don't want to wait until you've lost your window. The news cycle moves quickly. In our case, sine the State Board is meeting next week we need to submit the Op-Eds this week.
- You may want to end with a call to action of sorts. In this case, a call to Texans to encourage fair treatment of this issue, call to the school board to make the right decision, hope for a decrease in hate crimes as we have seen in the last week, etc.
Here are the tips for writing an Op-Ed (Viewpoint) by the Dallas Morning News: (Scroll down to "What is a Viewpoints Column?" on https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/opinion/2016/12/20/tips-letters-editor-op-ed-submissions). It is well written and helpful in putting together your Op-Ed Viewpoint.
Op-Ed Is Written; What Then?
- If you would like someone to review it before submitting it, email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will try to provide you feedback promptly. If you get it to us by Wednesday evening we will try to get it back to you by mid morning Thursday so that you can submit it shortly thereafter. If we don't get back to you in time, still submit it.
- Email us a copy of what you sent and to which publication (email@example.com). Include your name and contact info for us. Copy and paste the content in the email; please do not send any attachments.
- Prepare your email submission:
- Use a subject that tells them what it is and why it is relevant; something like: "Op-ed submission regarding next week's State Board of Education curriculum vote"
- For the body of the email you can use something like:
Dear Opinion Editor:
Please find below an op-ed about the Texas State Board's proposed curriculum. The board assembles next week, and as a concerned parent (or teacher, etc) in Dallas (or wherever you are), I hope to share my view.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
YOUR NAME, Phone number
- Copy and paste your Op-Ed in the email (no attachment).
- Submit the Op-Ed to your newspaper. Here are some places you can submit them (choose what is most appropriate for you):
- Austin American-Statesman: Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org (More info: https://www.statesman.com/opinion/letters/form)
- Houston Chronicle: Send email to: email@example.com (More info: https://www.chron.com/about/newsroom/)
- Dallas Morning News: Send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org (More info: https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/opinion/2016/12/20/tips-letters-editor-op-ed-submissions)
- Follow up with an email between 36 and 48 hours after you sent it to confirm receipt and explain why it may still be relevant and ask them to publish it.