Op Ed Essay Sample

Could terrorists sway the U.S. election? (PDF) Myers, D. G. (2016, August). Pacific Standard (https://psmag.com/)

A technological godsend to counter hearing loss. (PDF) Myers, D. G. (2015, August 28). Wall Street Journal essay about hearing loop technology.

The psychology of the Sunni-Shia divide. Myers. D. G. (2014, July 6). Politico Magazine essay explaining animosities between groups that seem so similar.

Bridging the gay-evangelical divide: Extreme opinions move toward the middle. Myers. D. G. (2009, August). Wall Street Journal essay about increasing common ground between social scientists and religious conservatives.

The tribes of March. Myers, D. G. (2008, April). Los Angeles Times essay on how sports rivalries illustrate the dynamics of social identity.

Intuition or intellect? Myers, D. G. (2006, August 22). Los Angeles Times essay on the powers and perils of President Bush's intuition, and our own.

Seemed like a good idea and still does. Myers, D. G. (2004, August 27). Los Angeles Times essay on dissonance reduction and presidential politics.

Son mas felices los ricos? (PDF) Myers, D. G. (2004, April 19). La Vanguardia (Spain), p. 23.

It's the mundane stuff that kills. Myers, D. G. (2004, March 9). Los Angeles Times essay (distributed by LA Times/Washington Post News Service).

The power of coincidence. Myers, D. G. (2002, September 23). E-Skeptic and Skeptic magazine.

Do we fear the right things? Myers, D. G. (2001, December 14). American Psychological Society Observer.

Resolving the American paradox. Myers, D. G. (2000, June 29). USA Today online article. Reprinted in The Responsive Community, Winter, 2000/2001, and abbreviated version in The Detroit Free Press. 

Don't all children have gifts? Myers, D. G. (1991, January 11). Education Week, back page.

Aren't all children gifted? (PDF) Myers, D. G., & Ridl, J. (1981, February/March). Today's Education (General Edition), pp. 30-33. (Reprinted by Chicago Tribune, Education West, Annual Editions: Educational Psychology 82, Target Magazine, Career Guidance Service; digested by Psychology Today.)

Lets cut the poortalk. (PDF) (1978, October 24). Myers, D. G. & Ludwig, T. Saturday Review, pp. 24-25.  (Reprinted in several newspapers and magazines. 

Learn What an Op-ed Article Is and How to Write It

An op-ed is an opinion piece that a freelance writer may find themselves writing on behalf of a client, such as a nonprofit or business. The op-ed is a chance for the organization to garner some publicity for themselves and to perhaps sway public opinion about an issue. It is one kind of article or piece that freelance writers who specialize in journalism writing or PR writing may find themselves producing.

The Purpose of an Op-ed 

The op-ed is usually longer than a regular letter to the editor is. It is often written by a subject matter expert (so this might be an instance of ghostwriting for the freelancer). In addition to a freelancer writing this on behalf of an organization, they are frequently written by a PR writer within the organization or other staff employees- such as a staff writer.

They are written in answer to a piece of news or to another opinion within the newspaper. For example, new immigration laws may push nonprofit immigration advocates to write an op-ed in favor of the new laws. An op-ed is anywhere from 300-700 words long, and sometimes a biography line and/or a photo of the "writer" (or subject matter expert) runs with the piece. Here are some tips on how to write an op-ed.

Own the Opinion

This will generally come from the client unless you've written for them a long time and are familiar with their stances.

Know what the end outcome of the op-ed is. Know what you want the reader to come away thinking and believing.

Start With a Hook

Just like in any other piece of writing, your reader is going to make a decision within just a few seconds whether or not they will continue. I like to start with a story that is personalized to the issue- but a brief one.

Be careful with this—I'm not telling you to pad your beginning with too much work-up.

The hook should be relevant to the issue. For example, I once began an op-ed about immigration law with a couple sentences about a woman who was waiting for her husband to return from Syria, where he was getting his papers in order, right when the recent violence broke out. It was brief but relevant.

Aim Correctly

Again, this will sound familiar, as it's true with many kinds of writing: Know your audience. Think of who reads the paper, who reads that section of the paper, and who reads about that particular issue. Then, aim for them. This might mean decisions about what levels of words you use, or what kinds of stories you tell. It means avoiding industry-speak. Another point when talking about aim is timeliness. Hopefully, your client is initiating this oped at a good time- such as when the issue is making news, or when someone else has written an (opposite) opinion about that matter to which you can respond.

Back It Up

Opinions necessitate reasons and support. What are yours (or your clients')? Work them in there. Do I really need to tell you to massage stats and other figures and items that may be boring?

Nah, you're a writer—you already know this!

Follow the Rest of the Rules

As a writer, you know the basics, right? Don't use passive sentences because you think they sound special. Cut your darling words. Stick to one subject. These are especially true when it comes to pieces that have to compete for limited space. You can please your client and be hired again if you can write work that gets them published.

End With Action

Don't leave your readers saying So? Tell them to support something- even if you can't give them an explicit action such as "go vote." This is also important because your readers will skim and scan, even if they're not reading on the internet. End it well.


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