This is the second of four posts in which Spec Opinion explains how we receive, edit, and choose outside submissions for publication. Here, we explain how op-eds come to us.
The opinion page, unlike the rest of the paper, relies on content from contributors not on Spectator's staff. Though a group of columnists and an editorial board fill a portion of the page each day, we rely on writing from the community in the form of op-eds to fill the rest.
As an associate editor, it is my responsibility to find these op-eds each week. And, as you might imagine, it’s more difficult than assigning a staff writer for content. Though we’d like to have the reader base of the New York Times and the volume of unsolicited op-ed submissions such an audience would bring, the reality is that we rely on an op-ed recruitment process.
Here’s how it works:
We keep an eye on campus news and reach out to individuals and organizations associated with current events. Student groups involved with or implicitly interested in Columbia news stories are our primary contact points. We also look at calendars to anticipate events which might inspire strong opinions. We equally rely on the unsolicited op-eds sent to our Spec Opinion email.
While our active recruitment process is effective (we print a full page each day of the week), in an ideal world it would be unnecessary. It often strikes me that few students know how to submit an op-ed—or even that it’s possible—and that is why we conduct outreach for content. In a campus as diverse, opinionated, and vocal as ours, we do not suffer from a lack of opinions, but rather a lack of information about how newspapers print op-eds.
We opinion editors aren't infallible and, despite our best efforts, can't reach out to each relevant person and group on campus about every current issue. But any relevant individual or group can reach out to us and submit an op-ed.
So, here’s a step in the direction towards increased visibility for Spec Opinion. Have an opinion you want to share? Then write a 650-word piece, check with our op-ed guidelines, and send it over to firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to be considered to write every now and then based on your interests and affiliations? Take a moment and share your info with us.
Help us make our editorial page the best reflection possible of the diversity of thought on our campus and in our community.