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“Youth merit voice in decisions today”

August 25, 2009
The following was originally published Monday, August 24, on Project2059.com, addressing Oregon’s future leaders in government and industry:

ari.strudlerI’d like to give a shout-out to Ari Strudler, our Project 2059 high school intern who you all have been in contact with over the last few months. Last week we got to talking about the “Activate Oregon” summit and her experiences meeting all the students and representatives from cities and industries around the state. I told her she should write an Opinion Editorial (Op-Ed) to The Oregonian.

Ari’s Op-Ed, “Youth merit voice in decisions today” was picked up by The Sunday Oregonian as well as its online affiliate site, Oregonlive.com. Sweet stuff!

Op-Eds are great for getting your community’s voice heard. Sometimes reporters miss newsworthy events, especially given the current economic climate with newspaper layoffs resulting in reporters each having to cover several different beats. They can get worn thin and won’t always cover an event even if they want to.

Ari was familiar with Op-Eds but needed a little more information to write a piece for public submission. The following is a list of resources Ari researched before writing her Op-Ed, as well as some advice of my own:

  • Op-Eds state the article’s thesis within the first paragraph. Never have more than one thesis within an Op-Ed and be concise in your writing. Always include examples and/or facts to support your argument/opinion.
  • When you write something, read it back to yourself. Make any changes that don’t read right. Then, read it to yourself again, out loud. Make any changes that don’t sound right.
  • Most American print publications publish according to the Associated Press’ (AP) style guidelines. If you write and submit something in AP style, it has a better chance of getting published. While Op-Ed style standards are a little less stringent, if you ever plan to write a freelance article, AP style’s the way to go.
  • AP Style Guide online (quick reference; you’ll have to purchase the whole book for a comprehensive guide)

Consider writing your own Op-Ed to express concerns or celebrate achievements within your community. It’s easy to look up online who at your local newspaper is in charge of the Editorial section. Once you e-mail your Op-Ed to them, wait a little while and then follow up with a phone call. A nice, subtle pitch accompanied by a well-written article goes a long way in getting yourself published. And if your piece doesn’t show up in print, always look online, where more content can be published throughout a given day.

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