Hug an Op-Ed Writer today!! Good Op-Ed Columnists are like your Smart, Political Friend.
DAY 23 ACTION: Learn about the history of op-ed pages in newspapers, and send an email to a columnist that you admire!
George Will is a Pulitzer-Prize winning conservative political columnist. George is not a fan of Mr. Trump.
Yesterday we talked about how critical a free press is to democracy. Today, we’re covering a particular area of the press: the opinion writer or columnist.
There is a long tradition in American press to feature writers who cover community events and share personal insights and opinions. Some columnists have become famous for embodying a city, such as Herb Caen in San Francisco or Lewis Grizzard in Atlanta.
Many columnists have become household names, from George Will and Maureen Dowd, to Fareed Zakaria, David Brooks, Dana Milbank, and Charles Blow. They become old friends to us; you know, those politically engaged, smart friends who always know how to capture what you’re feeling.
These days, many columns are printed on the op-ed page. The New York Times created the op-ed page in 1970, and other newspapers quickly followed. The idea was to offer space in the newspaper “opposite” the editorial page for the community to comment on events and political issues. It was understood that a paper’s editorial board would have one perspective. The purpose of the op-ed is to reflect other opinions in the community. In this part of the paper, explicitly expressing an opinion is ok, even required.
Op-eds can be written about any topic – politics, foreign affairs, the environment, health care, immigration, etc – and they reflect a range of views. Generally, an op-ed writer will publish regular opinion pieces with a particular news outlet. But anyone can write an op-ed – and there are resources out there to help you!
As with news outlets, individual journalists are under increasing pressure (remember Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes?) And if your favorite columnists are expressing concerns about the Trump Administration, you can bet they are receiving a lot of hate mail.
Today’s Action: Learn about the history of the op-ed page. Email or tweet at a columnist that you admire and say thank you! Rest assured, they all hear from people who don’t like what they say … as humans, we are much less likely to thank someone than to complain. So let’s give them some positive feedback!