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Putting bums in seats… with the help of the op ed pages

by Shari Graydon

An organization’s upcoming event is rarely sufficiently newsworthy on its own to convince a comment page editor to make space in the paper for a promotional piece, but when you can hook an op ed to a current issue and make passing reference to your event in the slug at the bottom, it’s not a bad way to help put bums in seats. My commentary in today’s Vancouver Sun does both, and we’ll see how successful the strategy was on Monday evening at SFU’s Harbour Centre campus in Vancouver.

It also helps when you have editors who are sympathetic to the issue you’re writing about, and Fazil Mihlar, op ed page editor at the Vancouver Sun, was an early supporter of Informed Opinions. When I first contacted him more than a year ago, he expressed interest in the project’s goals, and readily provided feedback about his own challenges in working to make his pages better reflect the diverse population served by his paper.

And the Vancouver Sun itself has a long history in this regard. I first got to know Editor-in-Chief Patricia Graham fifteen years ago when she convened a panel of Vancouver women to solicit input into how the paper could do a better job of speaking to and about women. She was instrumental in creating space for my own voice on the op ed pages, where I had a column from 1995-1997, and she agreed to have the Sun sponsor Monday night’s event. We’re delighted to partner with the paper in our efforts to bridge the gender gap in public discourse.

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