Publishing on editorial pages
Unsolicited submission to the editorial page can be in teh form of short (150-250 words) letters to the editor or longer (700-900 words) contributed editorials known as op-eds. Letters should be short, factual and relevant. They are an effective way of reaching a wide audience. They are much more likely to be published than the larger op-ed pieces (e.g. 250 words versus 800 words). Even if they are not published, they educate the editor and increase the likelihood that he/she will publish others letters with similar views (many editors are likely to publish a certain view if they get ten letters advocating it than if they get one). Because of the ease of doing them, a number of letters from the community will make an impact. Letters can be written on many issues:
- A news article you want to respond to (either pro or con; most people write against something so try to occasionally find things to write positive things about)
- Particular dates and events (e.g. anniversaries) whether its the adoption of UN resolutions, anniversaries of massacres, wars etc. Again you might find positive dates useful like adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (posted at Exhibit 1)
- A pending congressional legislation
- Another letter or opinion piece
- Missing coverage
- Events in the community (whether covered or not covered by the outlet in question)
- Any other subject you deem the public ought to hear your opinion about
Thus, the possibilities are endless to write something relevant. If it is a local newspaper, talking about local issues maybe the best approach to insure publication. Newspapers generally allow publishing one letter every 2-3 months. Persistence pays. Even if your particular letter does not get published, it will increase the likelihood that your future letters and those of others with similar views will be published.
Having selected the topic, do write your letter in a timely fashion. It is ideal that if your letter is addressing a news item, to send your letter the same day the item appears. Make sure you stick to the facts and do not try to cover too much material. Your letter should address a particular mistake or issue concisely and effectively. Be inventive and try different approaches but never use inflammatory or exceedingly emotional language.
Time Magazine published November 13, 2000 this letter to the editor (abbreviated from the 110 words I submitted to 67 words):
"A massive, modern military power funded by our tax dollars is using incredible force against an occupied civilian population yearning for freedom and resulting in clearly massive casualties on the Palestinian side. The US government has never been an honest broker. It is shortsighted to think that peace can be accomplished under conditions of apartheid and occupation and without reference to international law and basic human rights. Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ph.D., Orange, CT"
One of the most successful writers has been Annie Annab, a housewife and mother who writes letters everyday. To get a sampling of why she is successful at getting letters published, read these letters of hers carefully and understand what whe was responding to and why the editors found it publishable. She also submits many, many letters that do not get published (but indeed help get similar letter published (an editor is likely to publish one letter if 10 say similar things; the nine made a difference). Her writings are at this web page http://home.comcast.net/~anneseldenannab/
Some websites now allow you to write directly to many newspapers and journals:
Submitting letters directly: http://capwiz.com/adc/dbq/media
Submitting op-eds (fee for service site): http://www.wondervoice.com/
Write Op-Eds to the top 100 newspapers (free site): http://www.ccmc.org/oped.htm