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Citizen columnist shares insights

by Shari Graydon

At yesterday’s Informed Opinions workshop for Ottawa-based NGOs, Citizen columnist and editorial writer Kate Heartfield generously took an hour out of her day to share insights into what her paper looks for in op eds. She confirmed much of the advice already available in the resources section of the IO website, but emphasized a few things that are worth repeating:

1.  A good strong thesis that includes proposed solutions makes for a more compelling commentary than one that essentially amounts to “We should pay attention to this issue.”

2. The more news values there are embedded in the proposed op ed’s subject matter, the more likely it is to published. So a commentary dealing with a high-conflict story that is not only timely and of significant consequence to the paper’s readers, but also quirky, is much harder to turn down than a piece that fails to reflect any, or only one of those values.

Workshop participants really appreciated Kate’s advice, and Informed Opinions really appreciates the fact that she’s agreed to continue to volunteer her time to the project as a mentor/editor.

More significant, however, is the seminal role she played in helping to inspire the actual creation of Informed Opinions. Almost two years ago, Kate profiled the US-based Op Ed Project in one of her columns, alerting Media Action to the great work they’re doing south of the border, and giving us some impetus to do something similar in Canada.