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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 2/19/18

Out in the Hinterlands We Writers Are SO Frustrated Getting Op Ed Pieces into the Major Media

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Follow Me on Twitter     Message William Seavey

Out in the hinterlands of America are people with strong opinions, superb writing skills and hugely extensive and impressive experiences who have few avenues for widespread attention. (Unlike celebrities.)

They can write letters to the editor of regional publications on local topics and get published but trying to get their musings into major media is generally an exercise in futility.

I should know. An experienced journalist (semi-retired) who was on staff at newspapers and magazines years ago--and who had immediate access to editors and even publishers (well, not Kathryn Graham)--I've probably written a few hundred "guest opeds" in the past 30 years. And very rarely do any get published.


The obvious answer is that newspaper space is shrinking abd journalists are stressed. To even get a personal reply upon sending an oped is rare, but it occurs occasionally (you know you're not an idiot, at least). Response emails, if there are any, often remind submittants that editors receive HUNDREDS of such missives every day.

And competition is also the reason. I DID get a personal response recently after I addressed a reporter's essay on a subject I had written a book about, and he turned out to be an editor as well--with some clout. THEN the "negotiations" began (not financially oriented as most opeds don't pay--though years ago I got $300 for one) about my proposed topic. The recent one was how divorced parents could somehow shepherd their troubled children into adulthood without violence and acting out--newsworthy after what tragically happened in Florida.

You want to get into the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, MIami Herald or some other big paper? Frankly, don't bother trying. At one point I took several years of essays, mostly unpublished, and put them into a loosely bound folio.

It was titled "I Could Have Been President" (available at Amazon) after the essay of the same title. I've always thought that these were some of my best writings but off course few will ever see them...

Writing a blog on a specific subject and gaining a following is certainly today's high tech way of getting your expertise out. I've done so in the past BUT, like some, I'm the perfect "generalist" whose life experience allows me to write on "specialist" topics (if that makes any sense). I can't help myself. So the blogs I've started languished because I became somewhat bored with them (but one got seriously hacked).

If you're determined to self-flaggellate, I do have a few tips. Of course, avoid sending your opeds to the biggest newspapers and news sites UNLESS you have a contact person (don't expect a response in most cases). Make sure it is on a subject related to a story in THAT paper. Keep it well under 1000 words (better, 500-700) and state your credentials right at the top. And don't bother querying about a subject--just pen the darn thing in full. (I don't know why editors ask for EXCLUSIVES--the chances of an acceptance at two or more papers is remote.)

Hey, I'm just trying to help make democracy work better--in the age of Trump.

Of course, you can submit to OpEd News, as I just have, and at least reach a few thousand potential readers--and possibly get picked up by a news organization. I've supported OpEd News for some time even though I haven't contributed much--I guess I'm just a glutton for punishmenttrying to get the attention of the mainstream media...

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I am a journalist and researcher by trade (graduate, University of Iowa Department of Mass Communications, '69), fairly prolific author (Crisis Investing and Entrepreneuring--2009, Moving to Small Town America, Home Dreams for Hard Times, People's (more...)
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Out in the Hinterlands We Writers Are SO Frustrated Getting Op Ed Pieces into the Major Media

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