Advocate Through the Media!
To write an oped piece in your local press, we invite you to utilize the suggestions below:
Tips for contacting newspapers
Have you ever wondered how things get into a newspaper? In brief, here are the types of pieces you may see in a typical newspaper:
- Editorial – Written by the editor or publisher of the paper, usually an opinion on a topic of public interest
- Op-Ed – Usually on the page across from the Editorial (“Opposite Editorial”) is written by readers and opinion leaders on topics of public interest and usually expressing an opinion or argument for change, generally 400-700 words
- Letter to the Editor – Short letters from readers, usually in reaction to reporting or editorials, often less than 200 words – IF YOUR NEWSPAPER ISN’T ABLE TO PUBLISH YOUR OP-ED, YOU CAN SUBMIT A SHORTER VERSION AS A LETTER TO THE EDITOR
- News – Straight information on current events, not opinion, usually written by newspaper staff
- Features – Longer pieces focusing on a person or an event, usually written by staff, less formal than news. YOU MAY BE ASKED TO BE INTERVIEWED FOR THIS KIND OF PIECE.
Each newspaper has its own policy on publishing Op-Ed and Letters to the Editor, usually published on their website. It is best to learn the policy and/or call the newspaper before submitting anything, and to make sure to send your letter to the appropriate person.
- If a recent story in the newspaper relates to eating disorders or mental health or insurance, make sure to reference it in your letter.
- Editors will generally cut from the latter part of the letter for space. Make sure your main points come early.
- Stay focused on one message: Mental health parity legislation now in Congress.
- Email and/or call the editor to confirm your letter’s arrival. Persistence counts, but so does politeness.
- You must give your real name and contact info to be considered for publication. If you want the paper to make your Op-Ed or letter anonymous, you must make a good argument why. Editors will not be familiar with the eating disorder world or the illness – and will not automatically understand the issues of privacy or stigma. If your letter is compelling, however, editors may be willing to publish anonymous letters.
- Study your local paper to see the types of things usually published, and length.
- If sending by email, send in the body of the email, not as an attachment.
- Avoid clichés and puns.
- All newspapers get many more op-ed columns and letters than they run.
- The bigger the circulation of the publication, the more competition for space.
- Most publications will call the writer to confirm authenticity.
- The op-ed and letters page is one of the most popular parts of the newspaper.
- KISS . keep it short and simple. Use short sentences, and stay focused on your core message.
- Do not send identical op-ed pieces or letters to the editor to more than one newspaper in you area.
- Let the editor know that your op-ed is “exclusive” to that paper.
- Be prepared to shorten and re-submit your article as a letter to the editor in case it is not accepted as an op-ed.
- Don’t overlook TV and radio stations – some accept essays or letters for broadcast.
- Check the facts, and say only what you can verify factually from outside sources unless you are telling your experience.
- Don’t just complain; offer a specific action.
- Read your letter aloud to yourself to check for errors.
- Have other people check your letter for spelling, grammar and meaning before sending.
- Monitor the paper for your letter.
- Let us help!