Writing to Change the World with The OpEd Project

by Kori Crockett Cofounder / CEO


Today I participated in a day-long seminar by The OpEd Project - Write to Change the World.

The OpEd Project aims to increase the diversity of voices and ideas represented by training people to write effective op-eds that get published, particularly women and people from underrepresented backgrounds.

Currently 80-90% of key commentary forums - op-eds, experts on TV political talk shows, producers, and more - are led by men. The OpEd Project envisions a world where the best ideas - regardless of where they come from - should have a chance to be heard and to shape society and change the world.

What is an op-ed?
Tbh, I really didn’t know much about op-eds going into this workshop. Now I know it’s a piece of commentary by an individual author unaffiliated with the paper that presents an opinion and stands opposite of the editorial page.

Why write an op-ed?
That’s what I was wondering, too. Especially in getting Propeller Collective off the ground, do I really have time to devote to something like this? YES. It’s all about the audience you’re able to reach through your piece. Decision-makers, policy-makers, philanthropists, donors, students, publishers, conferences, and more. By advancing my opinion and myself, I create more opportunities to change the world.

How to write an op-ed?
We discussed key op-ed elements like credibility, persuasion, being right vs. being effective, being intentional about our bigger picture, and how to think of our op-eds in terms of “How might I be of service to others?” We also worked through an outline of how to effectively structure an op-ed:

Lede catch attention with a news hook
Thesis why are you here?
Argument evidence 1, evidence 2, evidence 3
“To be sure” paragraph to allay your haters
Conclusion where you circle back to your lede and bring it home

The argument I worked on for the day:

We must honor the past of
first generation and low-income college students,
not just celebrate their future.

Personal learnings
Two things really stood out to me throughout the day:

  1. Shiny baubles - Dropping the “H” bomb (i.e. Harvard) where appropriate is OKAY :D It’s important to think of these as “What will it allow me to accomplish of value?” vs. “How will it make me look?”

  2. “I” vs. “We” - In founding Propeller Collective, I often refer to the organization and I as “we” when talking about our work. However, I now understand it’s important for me to be intentional about this and give credit where credit is due. For example, in my op-ed, I have something to say about this, not the organization. In my day-to-day work, I am assembling a team, not the organization.

Next steps
All attendees have access to mentor-editors for up to the next 3 months to refine and submit an op-ed. That’s enough incentive for me to get moving on this. I’ll reach out to request a mentor-editor next week.

I’ll let you know if my piece gets published!!

Thank you to India Peek-Jensen for sharing this opportunity with me, The OpEd Project for providing scholarships, program facilitators, and fellow participants for this fantastic growth experience.

Interested? The OpEd Project offers 1-day seminars across the US, and full and partial scholarships are available. Learn more here!


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