Writing & Pitching an Opinion Editorial (Op-Ed)
When drafting an opinion piece, research the outlet you are submitting to. Many have a word limit around 600, so check the outlet’s website for guidance. Please feel free to use the points in the draft op-ed below as you write your own opinion article, or feel free to write directly from the heart - what you have to say deserves to be heard!
When pitching your op-ed, it is important to keep your pitch short and on message. Most editors and outlets prefer pitches over email or through a submission form on their website. It is important to keep your pitch as short as possible, as reporters are often on a deadline and receive many story pitches every day. Open your pitch with an interesting first line and relate the pitch back to another story the reporter has recently written to increase the likelihood of the reporter picking up your story. Please see the draft pitch below for an example email.
Be sure to research the outlets and reporters in your area. Before pitching, ask yourself:
- Who are the top current events, immigration, or political reporters in your area?
- Have they written about refugees before? If so, how can you tie your op-ed to their previous work?
When drafting your pitch, use the answers to these questions to guide you. They will help increase the chances of your op-ed being picked-up and published.
Draft Pitch Email for Op-Ed
Subject: Submission: Faith leader op-ed on supporting refugee resettlement
My name is [NAME] and I’m the [TITLE] of [ORGANIZATION]. As the global community faces the largest displacement crisis in history, our organization/congregation is preparing to resettle refugees and do our part to create a welcoming community. (Here, be sure to include brief details about why you’re writing to them about refugees).
My experiences inspired me to author the attached op-ed, reaffirming the need for us all to work together and create an inclusive community. In light of recent anti-refugee and anti-Muslim rhetoric in particular, this piece offers a timely response and highlights the urgent need to create a welcoming place for all people.
Please feel free to contact me at [EMAIL] or over the phone at [PHONE NUMBER] if you have any questions or would like to discuss the piece in greater detail. Thank you in advance for your consideration!
Sample Faith Leader Op-Ed
I reflect how from the earliest days of [Sunday school/Hebrew School/Seminary], my faith has taught and called me to welcome the stranger, stand with the vulnerable, and love my neighbor. Now, as a [FATHER], [MINISTER], and [STATE], I am proud to demonstrate these values in my daily life and weekly sermons at [NAME OF CONGREGATION]. But it is also because of those values that I am deeply disturbed by recent anti-refugee and anti-immigrant sentiment espoused by some of our law makers. It sends an unwelcoming and mean-spirited message of exclusion to refugee families fleeing violence and persecution.
President Trump's drastic reduction in refugee resettlement stands opposite to my beliefs as a person of faith. Refugees are also the most scrutinized individuals entering the United States. Claiming that refugees are a security threat, or that they are not valued future members of our American communities, not only ignores the unimaginable circumstances they flee and heavily scrutinized path to safe haven in the United States, but also stokes fear rather than cultivating compassion, truth, and understanding.
From the [earliest books] in the [BIBLE/TORAH/QURAN], our faith calls on us to show mercy and hospitality to those fleeing persecution. We are called to treat them with dignity, respect, and love, providing the same welcome that we ourselves would hope for.
[INSERT RELEVANT SCRIPTURE – EX: “Bring water to the thirsty, meet the fugitive with bread… For they have fled from the swords, from the drawn sword, from the bent bow, and from the stress of battle.” - Isaiah 21:14-15; “And (as for) those who believed and fled and struggled hard in Allah's way, and those who gave shelter and helped, these are the believers truly; they shall have forgiveness and honorable provision.” (Quran 8:74); “And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:19)]
As Americans, we live in a country built in part by the hard work, dreams, and determination of generations of immigrants and refugees -- many of whom were our ancestors. Sadly, it seems that our legislators have forgotten these lessons and have acted with fear instead of compassion.
Today, I am asking all Members of Congress to support refugees and work to ensure the administration recognizes the relationships refugees have with U.S.-based resettlement agencies and family members in the U.S. I also urge them to support resettling at least 75,000 refugees in fiscal year 2019.
Refugees are mothers, fathers, and children. They are doctors, teachers, lawyers, business owners, craftsmen, and musicians. As the world searches for solutions to the largest displacement crisis in history, with more than 21 million refugees worldwide, we have a moral and legal obligation to refugees seeking a chance to rebuild their lives and create a better future for their families. These people are no different than our [BIBLICAL] ancestors who were once refugees who found welcome and were called to do the same.
I urge our elected lawmakers to ensure [STATE] is providing refugees a chance to live, work, and go to school in safety. To do otherwise would be to dishonor our legacy of welcome and hospitality and fall short of our values.
Sample Refugee Leader Op-Ed
Take it from Someone Who Has Been in Their Shoes: We Must Welcome Refugees
My name is [NAME], and I’m [CAREER, FAMILY, ETC.] I came to the United States as a refugee from [COUNTRY] [TIME] years ago. My family and I were forced to leave everything behind after [PERSONAL STORY].
Today, I reflect on my journey and am so grateful to the United States and my new community for giving me another chance at life.
As with many refugees, I would have preferred to remain in my homeland. However, [SHARE WHY YOU NEEDED TO MOVE, AND THAT THE JOURNEY WAS DIFFICULT AND LONG]. After experiencing such traumas, I faced other challenges while resettlement, such as [NAME A FEW OF THESE CHALLENGES]. What made the biggest difference in overcoming these hardships--and in healing from past traumas--has been the welcome received when I joined my new community. [NAME A FEW WAYS YOU WERE WELCOMED, AND TELL HOW THAT MADE YOU FEEL.]
As someone who understands the struggles of refugees firsthand, I am disheartened to see that my beloved new home is denying that same opportunity to others now facing similarly dangerous situations.
I always viewed America as a beacon of hope. Demonizing refugees and reducing admissions does not reflect that. In fact, it completely contradicts the values America stands for: compassion, welcome, and resilience. The United States is a country where anyone should be able to pursue the American Dream and live in safety.
Today, I am asking all Members of Congress to protect funding for refugee resettlement and work to ensure the administration recognizes the relationships refugees have with U.S.-based resettlement agencies and family members in the U.S. I also urge them to support resettling at least 75,000 refugees in fiscal year 2019.
I continue now to believe in the importance of welcoming others--for others have welcomed me. As someone who knows firsthand the horrors that refugees flee and the sense of hope finding a home brings, I urge our local leaders, state legislators, and national policy makers to stand with refugees--today and every day. Only then will we truly reflect the welcome our country stands for.
Together, we can inspire welcome across the country and around the world.