Political Writing Outlets
July 16, 2004 4:46 AM   Subscribe

Writing political commentary. I have a friend (no, really) who has a lot of talent for writing political opinion pieces. He's had letters published in Time and in the International Herald Tribune. Now he'd like to start submitting some articles he has written, but he doesn't know where to send them. He's looking for small publications where he could get started, and he isn't necessarily looking to make money from this. In terms of slant, he describes himself as a civil libertarian, free-trader, legislative minimalist when it comes to issues of morality and mores, pro-redistributive lefty who veers right on issues of unnecessary regulation.

Any ideas on where he might find his niche? Much appreciated!
posted by hazyjane to Writing & Language (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's really hard to break in as a columnist or analyst for urban newspapers, because so many people are clamoring for the job.

Where does your friend live? Almost every community has small weekly newspapers--for neighborhoods in cities, for towns in the suburbs, for counties or regions in more rural areas. These small papers tend to be under-staffed and strapped for cash. The one I work for will publish almost anything submitted for the opinion page, but we don't pay for it.

Your friend might try writing for one of these papers, as long as its willing to run op-ed pieces on issues beyond its small boundaries. He should start by submitting a few things as op-eds or letters to the editor. Once some of those have been accepted, he can talk to the editor about what it would take to have a column run regularly. He may ask to be paid, but he should be prepared to do the work for free. And if he can't consistently meet the paper's deadline he should give up on this dream now.

Once he has a half dozen full-fledged articles that he can clip out of the paper and send on to bigger papers he's got a good starting place. Most big city daily papers still have very hard-to-crack op-ed departments, but hopefully your friend lives somewhere where there are small dailies. He needs to talk to the op-ed editor about writing commentary for them, and this time getting paid for it. After a few years writing for a small daily, larger papers might take a second look at him.

If there's a weekly business journal in your area, they might be an alternative place for your friend to try to get his op-eds printed, once he has a file of at least a half dozen to a dozen top-notch clips.

Maybe if he starts a political blog and updates it pretty often he can deliver a readership that will give him a foot in the door at various newspapers. Maybe.

On preview: Hmm, he doesn't necessarily want a job, he's just looking to get a few commentaries published, eh? Good luck. Sounds like he's got the kind of opinions that The Economist might enjoy, but except in their "letters" section, I think everything they run is staff-written.

It's funny, isn't it, that there's a lot of not-that-great writing going on at America's top pulications, yet it's just about impossible for anyone--even great writers--to break into print at these places without the right degree, experience and connections?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:44 AM on July 16, 2004 [1 favorite]

When I hear "free trade" and "unnecessary regulation" together, I always think of the Cato Institute and Reason Magazine. If your friend is finding print media a tough nut to crack, he might want to look into some online sites that have similar perspectives to his [if I'm reading you correctly, but I'm not sure what pro-redistributive means].
posted by jessamyn at 7:33 AM on July 16, 2004

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