Tips for Op-Ed Writing


1. Own your expertise
Know what you are an expert in and why - but don’t limit yourself. Consider the metaphors that your experience and knowledge suggest.

2. Stay current
Follow the news – both general and specific to your areas of specialty. If you write about Haiti, read the Haitian press. If you write about pop culture, read the media that cover it.

3. The perfect is the enemy of the good
In other words: write fast. You may have only a few hours to get your piece in before the moment is gone. But also…

4. Cultivate a flexible mind
Remember that a good idea may have more than one news hook, indeed if the idea is important enough it can have many. So keep an eye out for surprising connections and new news hooks – the opportunity may come around again.

5. Use plain language
Jargon serves a purpose, but it is rarely useful in public debate, and can obfuscate – sorry, I mean cloud – your argument. Speak to your reader in straight talk.

6. Respect your reader
Never underestimate your reader’s intelligence, or overestimate her level of information. Recognize that your average reader is not an expert in your topic, and that the onus is on you to capture her attention – and make the argument compel.


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