The Mentor-Editor Program is our high-impact micro-mentoring program, in which experienced journalists volunteer to connect with and give feedback to new and promising voices. The team includes over 120 veteran journalists across all platforms—from editors to bloggers, from Genius grant winners to weekly columnists to war correspondents and Pulitzer Prize winners. On average, each Mentor-Editor spends one hour a month (or they can choose to mentor more or less frequently) lifting the voices of others. Although they typically work with a Mentee for only a short time, they statistically double her odds of success. A roster of current OpEd Project Mentor-Editors is here.
How It Works
Alums of The OpEd Project's Write To Change The World workshop may submit a draft op-ed and request a mentor match at any time within one month after the date in which they participated in their program. If you use the Mentor-Editor program within one month of taking an OpEd Project seminar, we will automatically extend your access for two additional months (three months in total). The OpEd Project commits to matching any alum whose draft meets our definition of an op-ed: it must be a timely, evidence-based argument of public value; and no more than 1000 words. Upon receiving a match request and a solid op-ed draft, we query Mentor-Editors to make the best available match. Mentees are told that we do our best to make matches happen within a week, and often much sooner. Mentees come from all walks of life--from an astrophysicist at Yale to a blogger in Syria, to a woman in a prison reentry program—and are often top experts in their field. We strive to make matches that will enrich both the Mentee and the Mentor-Editor alike. More details below.
What Mentor-Editors do:
Upon accepting a match, Mentor-Editors commit to providing constructive, rapid feedback to their Mentee on her ideas - ideally immediately, and always within 24 hours. Usually, the process involves 2-3 back and forths, and on average Mentor-Editors say they spend about two hours in total on a match (although there are no time requirements). Mentor-Editors may comment on broad ideas, suggest copy edits, or both. Mentor-Editors are welcome to share personal contacts, make referrals or help Mentees pitch pieces if they like, but it is not expected. The expectation is simply that the Mentor-Editor will provide feedback and encouragement in a one-time, one-op-ed interaction (unless Mentor-Editor and Mentee both wish to continue).
As a default, Mentor-Editors agree to mentor one new underrepresented/female writer every other month, on an idea they are advancing in the form of an op-ed. However, Mentor-Editors can expand or contract their commitment as needed, with a minimum commitment of mentoring four times a year. On average Mentor-Editors spend 2 hours on each match – but there is no minimum or maximium time requirement.
Statistically, Mentor-Editors more than double a Mentee’s odds of success in publishing her op-ed—to a nearly 60% success rate. Participants have published in virtually every major outlet, across many platforms. They have gone on to receive book contracts, raises, fellowships, job offers, funding for their start-ups and nonprofits, to appear on radio and TV, to brief Congress, to force the Pentagon to acknowledge civilian casualties in drone strikes, to influence incarceration policy, to launch local and national initiatives, and so much more.
Who Mentor-Editors Are:
Mentor-Editors include a growing list of prestigious journalists, columnists and editors—including: Sheri Fink (Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist); Maura Casey (former New York Times Editorial Board), Connie Shultz (Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Plain Dealer), Joe Loya (former prison writer, columnist, CNN contributor); Stacy Sullivan (war correspondent), Lisa Pryor (former Managing Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald Op-Ed Page); Harriet Washington (author of Medical Apartheid and New York Times op-ed contributor), and Laura Mazer (former managing editor of Creators Syndicate, the international agency that represents some of the most widely published opinion writers around the globe)—who are committed to finally, once and for all, improving the diversity and quality of our world’s conversation.
1. You may request a Mentor-Editor after completing a full-day OpEd Project seminar by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The subject of the email should read “MATCH REQUEST.” In the body of the email, please include (1) the date and location of your seminar, (2) the word count of your draft, and (3) a one-sentence summary of your op-ed that begins with “this piece is about…”.
2. You must submit a solid draft op-ed with your request, to initiate the match. It must meet The OpEd Project definition of an op-ed: a timely, evidence-based argument of public value. It should be approximately 650-750 words. If you submit a draft that is longer than 1000 words, we will not initiate a match.
3. Upon receiving your request, The OpEd Project will query our Mentor-Editors to find the best match, based on availability and expertise. We do our best to make matches happen within a week, and often much faster, however please be advised that there are occasional variances due to our journalists’ unpredictable schedules. If you are on a tight deadline, or if your op-ed is very time-sensitive, we suggest that you reach out to your fellow OEP seminar participants for peer support. In the event that you do not hear from me about your match within one week, you may contact Emily at email@example.com.
4. The Mentor-Editor policy is "one match at a time." This means we will only match one submission at a time with a mentor. Only when that mentor-match is complete can you submit again. Completion of match is defined as: when mentor has provided feedback and the exchange is over.
5. Mentor-Editors commit to providing positive critical feedback in a tone that encourages and inspires. We ask Mentor-Editors to do everything they possibly can—in the manner they feel most appropriate—to support and empower you. They may comment on broad ideas, suggest copy edits, or both.
6. If you want help with your pitch, you must include it with your submission and specifically request feedback on it. Mentor-Editors will not pitch for you, but they will give you feedback on your pitch. Pitching happens fast - be sure to follow up! For guidance on how to pitch, where to submit and when to follow up please see our website: theopedproject.org/pitching and theopedproject.org/submission-information.
7. Although Mentor-Editors may occasionally share personal contacts, you should never expect this.
8. The Mentor-Editor will provide feedback and encouragement in a one-time, one-op-ed interaction (unless the Mentor-Editor and the Alum both wish to continue the dialogue).
9. This program was founded to support your voice – please do not use it for ghostwriting, and do not turn in drafts by anyone other than yourself.
10. Remember to THANK your mentor! Our Mentor-Editors are volunteering their time to help you. Some of them are pulling time out of their workdays in between deadlines, or reporting from the front lines. So please thank them. Even if you don't use their edits. And if you get published, or if their support has in any other way been helpful you, please tell them so (CC us, if you like). What goes around comes around, and gratitude is powerful juju.
To apply to be a Mentor-Editor, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.