Making Your Case on Editorial Pages June 30, 2010

The Components of Editorial Pages

Editorials Editorial cartoons Letters to the Editor Columns (local or syndicated) Op-Eds

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First things first

There’s no substitute for research.

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Letters to the Editor

When should I write a letter to the editor?
•Stories •Editorials and op-eds •Open forum

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Letters to the Editor

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Letters to the Editor

Length/word count Lead sentence Your message Focus Be nice!

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Letters to the Editor

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Letters to the Editor

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Op-Eds/Guest Editorials

Someone interesting with expertise in the field/on the topic who has something to say that is relevant and timely. This might be you!

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Op-Eds/Guest Editorials

Tips for writing op-eds
Write a compelling lead sentence. Present a clear and compelling argument supported by evidence. Stick to the word count.

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Op-Eds/Guest Editorials

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Op-Eds/Guest Editorials

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Op-Eds/Guest Editorials
Our mandate, as we see it, is straightforward: to provide provocative, thoughtful commentary that is reasoned yet opinionated on a wide variety of subjects. The page itself has no ideological bent or political agenda; we want to provide the broadest possible range of opinions — from the left, from the right and, we hope, from authors whose politics are much harder to pigeonhole. As for our subjects, almost nothing is off-limits. We run articles on domestic politics, on foreign policy, on the great issues and controversies of the day in L.A., California and around the world. We also run personal essays and humor pieces, as well as articles on science and sports and movies and family life. The only unifying characteristic (we hope) is that all our pieces have an idea behind them and a point of view, and that they all stimulate some kind of intellectual engagement with the subject. We've run pieces on whether fish feel pain, on what it's like to be a baseball fan growing up in Hong Kong, on whether to engage or ignore North Korea, on Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's trip to Asia, on the banning of transfats, on the agenda of the new L.A. schools superintendent, on surfing in Munich, on the legacy of U.N. leader Kofi Annan, on several upcoming ballot initiatives and on how Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's childhood helped shape his approach to politics. Our authors include people who have never (or rarely) written a word for publication. Others are better known, and they include novelists, historians, policymakers, humorists and activists. All are paid a modest fee for their contributions.

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Op-Eds/Guest Editorials
Submissions arrive in two ways: Either we solicit them or they're sent to us by authors "over the transom" — i.e., unasked. In any given week, we receive 300 to 500 unsolicited submissions, most by e-mail. The vast majority do not make it onto the page (and, although we try to decline them politely, we are too overwhelmed to respond personally to every inquiry). In the end, we publish about 24 pieces each week on the Op-Ed and Sunday Opinion pages. Our pages — the daily Op-Ed page and the Current section — are put together on the second floor of the L.A. Times building by several full-time assigning editors as well as researchers, copy editors and an art director. People often want to know whether we seek balance on the page. The answer, as best I can give it, is this: We want a page that is politically balanced over time — not leaning too heavily to the left or the right — but we don't monitor it day to day, or count Democrats versus Republicans. Similarly, we seek diversity of thought and diversity of contributors — we want provocative ideas from people of all races, genders, religions, etc. — but again, we don't try to balance the number of women to men on every single page. …Our job — providing provocative, readable and substantive essays seven days a week — is challenging, but it's always engaging, inspiring and, yes, fun. And if we do it right, reading the pages should also be all of those things — challenging, engaging, inspiring and fun. -- Nick Goldberg, deputy editorial page editor, Los Angeles Times

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Editorials

Editorial Memoranda Editorial Board Meetings

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Editorials

Tips for writing an editorial memorandum
•Present a compelling argument supported by evidence (including data that’s not yours) •State the issue, explain why it matters, offer a summary of your argument, provide support. •No more than two pages (one if possible) •Contact information

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Editorials

Setting up editorial board meetings
Send a letter/email requesting a meeting Send and edit memo

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Editorials

Planning your meeting
•Choose 3 -4 people who can present different perspectives •Plan your presentations and choose your roles •Practice •Anticipate questions

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Editorials

At the meeting
•Arrive early •Keep it brief •Bring your materials •Expect a conversation •Follow up

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Columnists

Clarence Page David Broder Maureen Dowd Connie Schultz Ana Veciana Suarez Casey Woods

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Columnists

Reaching out
•Pitching •Editorial memoranda •Email message •Phone follow up

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Blogs!

• Newspaper bloggers • Your own blog • Relevant blogs

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Blogs!

The Health Care Blog

Everything you always wanted to know about the Health Care system. But were afraid to ask.

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Toot your own horn

If you place a letter or oped, succeed in getting an editorial or having a columnist or blogger write about the issue you’ve pitched, let people know!

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If you want to keep it going…

• Conduct outreach several times during the year • Mix it up • Find a variety of spokespeople • Use a variety of media

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