WHAT IS AN OP-ED?

An opinion or commentary piece is written about a news issue by someone outside our newsroom. The author could be anyone from an elected official to your next door neighbor. You can find opinion pieces online at inquirer.com/opinion and on weekdays, in print on the editorial pages at the back of the A section. On Sundays, opinions run in the Currents section, which will sometimes explore a special theme or issue.

Opinion or commentary pieces are sometimes called op-eds, meaning opposite of editorial, a reference to their traditional placement on the page in the print newspaper. The Inquirer is looking for pieces that are well-written with a fact-based viewpoint. That primarily takes the shape of commentary on news events, but we also strive to publish reflections on cultural trends, and the occasional personal or explanatory essay. We also run daily editorial cartoons in print, which represent the opinion of the individual artist.

Op-eds are reviewed and edited by opinion editors:

» Erica Palan epalan@inquirer.com

» Elena Gooray egooray@inquirer.com

TIPS FOR PITCHING OPINIONS TO THE INQUIRER

The Inquirer strives to present a diverse range of views from a wide variety of writers on our opinion platforms. Our goal is to elevate civic — and civil — discourse. When assessing pieces, editors consider both the source (who wrote the piece) as well as the content (what the piece says). We emphasize facts, always, and appreciate when a writer has a unique and compelling voice. We believe that everyone has the ability to write an opinion piece, and we’re eager to work with first-time writers as well as seasoned professionals.

Basic tips

  • 650 words is a good length. We have a little wiggle room in either direction, but not a ton.

  • Include links to sourcing. There are many reasons this is a good idea. It makes it easier for us to fact-check/verify, speeding up the editing process. It’s a way to drive our readers to your own website. It helps Google recognize your piece, boosting its potential to get readers from search engines.

  • Include 1-2 lines of bio for the author(s). And limit it to two authors.

  • Send the whole draft. We prefer this to a pitch.

  • Paste it into the body of an email. Due to security reasons, we do not like to open attachments to emails. We cannot edit PDFs and Word or Google docs are often challenging, too.

  • Don’t send headshots. We’ll ask if we want that.

Other helpful guidance

There are no hard and fast rules about what topics we cover on the op-ed page, but some general parameters:

  • Tie your op-ed to news issues. There are evergreen topics — opioids, poverty, climate change, etc — but the newsier your piece is, the more appealing it will be.

  • Local is better than national. We do run the occasional op-ed from a contributor on national issues, but our sweet spot is a national issue with a strong relevance in the Philadelphia region.

  • Timeliness matters — and please keep in mind that news moves much faster than academia.

  • Personal essays can resonate. We don’t publish a ton of personal essays, but we do occasionally do themed issues of the Sunday Currents section when personal essays are a good fit.

  • Consider a call to action. It’s not always possible but if you can tie your piece to an action readers can take — voting on a ballot measure, for example — that’s ideal.

  • No endorsements. The Editorial Board will issue endorsements in major elections, but we do not run endorsements written by individuals or other organizations.

  • A few other things that we don’t accept: open letters, poetry, petitions, public service announcements, and press releases. These are all valid forms of communication, but they won’t fit on our pages and we won’t be shy about saying so.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Op-eds and commentary pieces are not direct responses to Inquirer reporting. If you’d like to reply to an Inquirer story, you may submit a letter to the editor to letters@inquirer.com. Letters should be no longer than 150 words. Please include home address and day and evening phone number. Letters run in the Inquirer six days a week on the editorial pages. Letters are not published online.

EDITORIALS

An editorial is an opinion about a matter of public interest or policy researched and written by our Editorial Board, a group of journalists separate from the newsroom who meet frequently to discuss and debate issues. Unlike news stories, which are solely fact-driven, and written by reporters, editorials use facts and persuasive writing to advocate, champion, argue, critique, and suggest ways to make the region better.

The Editorial Board routinely discusses issues of the day to decide what to editorialize on and, during election campaigns, which candidates or ballot measures to endorse. News reporters and editors do not participate in these discussions. The Board’s opinions are not a consideration in news coverage.

ENDORSEMENTS

Prior to each election, the Inquirer’s Editorial Board identifies the races where an endorsement can help readers understand where candidates stand on issues and why we think voters should support (or not support) a particular candidate.

We think all elections are important and try to cover as many as we can. We research the candidates’ backgrounds through our own reporting, as well as through the work of our newsroom colleagues.

The Board hosts meetings with candidates running in contested races, where we ask them about their stance on the issues we think are most important to their constituents. The meetings are on the record, and political reporters and editors are invited to participate, but they do not weigh in on the endorsement process.

COLUMNS

Unlike reporters, columnists are allowed to include their opinions and viewpoints when presenting their reporting. Some columnists, like Will Bunch and Trudy Rubin, appear on the op-ed and editorial pages in print. Others, like Jenice Armstrong, Maria Panaritis, and Helen Ubiñas appear elsewhere in the paper. All of our columnists can be found at Inquirer.com/opinion.