Open Media Boston Seeks More Opinion Pieces from Local Progressives
Every once and a while, we've found that it's a good idea to remind our viewers - especially viewers representing progressive labor, community and religious organizations - that Open Media Boston is always looking for op-eds to publish in our Opinion section. While we don't guarantee that we'll publish every submission, we generally accept all those that are timely and meet basic editorial standards. However, we realize that people may not have written an op-ed before; so this editorial will cover the basics of what we expect from our Opinion writers.
First, an op-ed is an opinion article. The expression "op-ed" means "opposite the editorial page" and is a legacy from traditional print media that would have an editorial page to the left of the typical vertical fold between pages of tabloid and broadsheet newspapers - and an opinion page to the right of the fold. Editorials are written by Open Media Boston editors and guests only. But Opinion pieces can be written by anyone.
Second, timeliness. An opinion piece is timely if it's dealing with an issue or theme that is happening at the time of writing or is likely to happen soon. It can also be about something that might happen in the more distant future - like the worst of global warming effects - but could be forestalled by action in the present or near future. On anniversaries of historical events, it can also be timely to discuss those events in light of present developments or simply to mention lesson about the past for the present.
Third, OMB's basic editorial standards. We expect every op-ed submitted for publication to follow basic spelling, punctuation and grammar rules - and to use the English language at a high school level or above. We take writers' backgrounds into consideration when we review each article. If a given writer speaks English as a second language, we take that into account. If a writer lacks much formal education because of any of a number of structural reasons, we take that into account. We're not mean editors. We don't edit to "score points" or to take ludicrous stands on obscure points of grammar or to show how clever we are. We edit for clarity first and foremost. We want to make sure that the largest possible audience will be able to read each op-ed we publish.
Fourth, we want to state for the record and with all due respect to our viewers that WE DON'T PUBLISH PRESS RELEASES! OMB is all about original content. From our launch in March 2008 (yes, we're five years old in a couple of weeks), we've always made that a point of pride. We understand that busy and understaffed non-profit organizations often don't have the staff to write entirely new op-eds for publication with us, but we expect organizations to at least take the time to ... uh ... de-press-releasify (d'oh!) their press release material for use in op-ed submissions to OMB. That means, 1) remove all quotes by your organization's own staff and activists. Op-eds can certainly quote people, but if an op-ed is from an organization we don't want to see quotes from that organization's people. We want the organization to speak about it's positions directly, plainly and succinctly. Just lay it out for our audience. 2) Don't talk about your organization in the third person. Use first person plural pronouns instead - "we" and "our." 3) Make sure that all roads in your article do not lead to your organization. Mix it up. Use the web. Be courteous. Link to other people and organizations you mention - even if they're your political enemies. OMB is likes dialogue. Which will become more obvious once we build our new website, and make it easier for our viewers to comment on our content.
Fifth, fact-check, fact-check, fact-check. We are completely uninterested in unsubstantiated screeds and manifesti. We believe in evidence-based journalism. And that belief extends to our Opinion section. You may well think that The Greys and The Rothschilds are controlling most of the population with silver mercury amalgam fillings and mass vaccination programs, but if you can't back it up with more than hearsay and internet fulminations we ain't gonna publish it. Put it on your own blog, don your tinfoil hat, and await the anal probings to come. We're not interested. The Truth is out there. But you don't have it.
Sixth, any hate speech and your submission will be automatically rejected. Then we'll probably delete your OMB User account for good measure.
Finally, and most important of all, we want each op-ed we run to have a "Boston hook." That means that something about the piece needs to relate to our core Boston audience - even if it's an article discussing events in another country. For example, we frequently run op-eds from Boston's South Asian community that discuss events taking place in India. The "Boston hook" - the connection to our local audience - is usually the fact that local South Asian organizations have meetings, cultural events and public actions relating to politics in their home countries and regions. A typical op-ed along those lines will discuss a local action in the international context.
And that's it. If you remember these basics, and have interesting subjects to write about, you'll almost certainly get published in the Open Media Boston Opinion section.
As regards right-wing opinion pieces, yes, we will run them. Occasionally. We are, after all, a Boston metro publication with a progressive editorial policy. And there's conservative media aplenty out there; so we're primarily interested in running opinion articles from somewhere on the broad left of the political spectrum. But if conservatives want to submit respectful op-eds, well fact-checked, free of hyperbole and invective with a Boston hook, then we're likely to look upon them with favor. Because we like a good debate. And we don't assume that the political left always has the correct answers to every question in every situation.
Otherwise, we can run as much good stuff as you all can produce. So if you're working something up, don't hesitate. Get one of our free OMB User accounts if you don't already have one, submit it your op-ed our Open Forum, and email us at info [at] openmediaboston [dot] org to let us know when you've done that. We'll review the piece and get back to you within a few days. And remember, you retain all rights to your article other than our right to display it on our website and store it on our server. You have the right to pull your piece at anytime. For more information on all of this, check out our OMB User's Guide.
Thanks in advance for all the op-eds that we may receive as a result of this editorial.
Jason Pramas is Editor/Publisher of Open Media Boston