Aspiring writers are constantly seeking to gain exposure and experience to add to a resume when submitting articles to larger publications. One overlooked area is right in their backyard (or in this case, the front yard). Local newspapers are sometimes more willing to print valid work or offer advice.
Newspapers are struggling, just like other businesses, to find ways to stay open. They are daily looking for well-written and informative contributions. Opposite their editorial section is usually at least one column reserved for viewpoints and opinions of the readers. These articles are called opposite editorials (op-ed) and are a good starting place for beginning writers.
These local op-ed pieces can be about social, political, or business-related events. An intelligent, properly worded submission can increase the writer’s validity as a contributor and insure that future pieces will be considered and published. It doesn’t matter whether or not you believe what you write. It only matters whether or not you have succeeded in presenting the issue properly. In fact, arguing an opposite opinion helps the writer develop thinking and problem-solving traits and improve skills.
A fresh slant or a new approach to a local topic is sure to get published if correctly written. Newspapers print what readers want. Readers do not want old news. They want current events and topics to be written in a new way. They read the paper to find out what is new.
Several things are to be considered when writing an op-ed article. If these tips are followed, the article stands a better chance of publication.
Brevity Is Important
In general, keep the word count to 600 words or less. This is a good exercise when learning to keep your words tight. Editors are busy. They want articles that are to the point and brief.
Stick to One Point
If you have more than one topic, consider several submissions spaced out over a week. Readers want newspaper articles that are honest in the narrative and simple in the argument. Your statements should make them stop and think for a moment that maybe—just maybe—you have a valid point. Stick to one point, and you will have a better chance of seeing that point in print.
Get Their Attention
The opening sentence needs a hook to capture the reader’s attention and make him want to continue reading. The easiest hooks are the ones that begin a story or make a blanket statement that someone might find humorous or intriguing. Your point should be apparent from the opening lines of your article.
Use Common Words
Editors will choose articles for publication that are clear and powerfully written without a lot of inside terminology and jargon that readers won’t know. If your chosen topic requires terminology that the average reader might not know, include a brief definition—either through context or one that is directly stated—to avoid confusion. It is better, however, to avoid this.
Important Items First
Putting your good points early ensures that readers will be interested. But it also means that if the editor needs to cut your piece to fit, the end sentences that are cut will not affect the overall intent of your article.
If this sounds like something that is worthwhile, subscribe to a few local papers and read the editorial and op-ed sections every day to get a feel for what the editor is publishing. The document needs to be unique and individual and at the same time something that the editor will consider.
Op-ed articles start the thinking, writing, and submission process while also being a valid way to build a reputation. Larger publications will then see these as valuable experience and will seriously consider future submissions.