Opinion/editorials, or “op-eds,” are longer than letters-to-the-editor but can be written with the same guidelines. Some other points to consider:
Timing is key
What is in the news? What is happening on Capitol Hill? Tie your topic into an upcoming vote, appropriate holiday or anniversary, community event, the release of a new report, a recent article, or even a popular movie. Bear in mind that many editorial boards take a week or two to review submissions.
Check the requirements
Many newspapers require submissions by email, and some require you to submit a piece only to them. Also watch for the length and format requirements.
Consider your options
Your city or state’s major daily newspapers are worth considering, but so are free alternative weeklies or neighborhood and suburban papers, many of which are hungry for articles. Religious and ethnic press also have large readership in many locales.
Tell a story
You may want to begin with a short story or anecdote illustrating how the issue affects an individual or group of people, particularly if there is a local connection.
Make a local connection
Use local statistics to capture people’s attention. One source of federal budget statistics translated to the state level is the National Priorities Project. The web site provides information on a range of issues and highlights how they affect taxpayers.
Consider the messenger
You may wish to invite respected or influential members of your community to co-sign or co-write an op-ed with you to increase the chances of publication. Academics, religious leaders or non-profit leaders are some examples of people who bring credibility to an article.
Call to follow-up
You can check the status of your submission and talk with the editor about your issue. Even if you are not successful in getting published this time, you open the door to possible future articles or perhaps an editorial board meeting.