Everyone can write an Op-Ed. Yes, even you

Dear Reader, 

If we haven’t met yet, I’m Evan Ney, and I’m excited to be starting my second year of editing the opinions section. If I’m being honest with you, Opinions and Editorials is a very fancy and official sounding name for the section, but if it were up to me this would be the section called variety. As you follow along this year, you’ll encounter a diverse set of articles, including in this edition. Op-eds are serious and sometimes funny, written about Lawrence-related topics as well as with a broader lens, and have arguably the most varied perspectives of any section in this paper. That’s my favorite part. I’m lucky to manage a team of talented writers, and you’ll see their work often. At the same time, many of my favorite articles to edit and publish are the guest essays. Making these more formal and advertising for them admittedly started as sort of a pet project for me, but I was blown away by their popularity, and at times your work carried the section as the newspaper as a whole experienced some staffing issues.  

So in part, this article is to say hello and to introduce the section to new and returning readers, and in part it’s an ad for all of you to write for the section. A firm belief of mine is that while not everyone would enjoy being an Op-Ed staff writer, everyone at Lawrence has one Op-Ed they’d like to write and probably a few more too. Especially at Lawrence, we have opinions about everything, strong opinions about a great many things, and students with a background in the type of argumentative writing that works so well in this section; a great Op-Ed is basically just a First Year Studies essay written without such stuffy language and convention about a topic the author actually cares about (with all due respect to the First Year Studies curriculum, reading a variety of things is a good way to discover things you really like and things you really don’t like).  

It’s a match made in heaven. All of you have something you feel strongly about (that’s what I think anyway), all of you have the skills to write, and I’d love to print your work. If you need me to sweeten the deal, maybe a cool fifteen dollars would convince you. Is that a lot of money? No, but you can take that up with my bosses, and we pay for articles at a flat rate so if you can write these things in an hour or less then this is the highest paid job on campus by far. Food for thought. 

My final point is that in addition to guest essays, you can also write a letter to the editor, which I think is an underused platform around here. In fact, last year there weren’t any, but I think there should be. I won’t pretend as though every Friday the entire campus religiously reads the paper front to back and engages with every article, but I’m not sure that that’s true for any newspaper and in the many conversations I’ve had with community members I can confidently say that lots of people do read the paper, and lots of people care deeply about what gets written. One of my other favorite parts of this job is hearing feedback and reactions, both good and bad, from people about what gets published in the Opinions section. That’s the point! If you think somebody made a great point – or if you think they didn’t – I want to hear about it, and so do other readers. One of the quirks of both writing and editing for this section that I’ve considered is that I may someday be obligated to publish a letter to the editor telling me how much my own writing sucks. And while I’d love to be corrupt and file that one away to save myself the public embarrassment, I would of course print it. I genuinely value constructive feedback, as do my writers; they wouldn’t be able to write for me if they didn’t.  

So there you have it. Enjoy reading the section this year, feel free to chime in from time to time, and if you feel strongly about something in the section please let us know. I can’t wait to get started!