How do you write for the media? In part three of our four-part guide, we look at the planning and writing of opinion pieces.

Planning and writing opinion pieces

In the planning phase: 

  • Think about the case you want to argue
  • Research current opinions and develop your own ideas
  • Write down your ideas and what others might argue against them. Think about how you would counter those arguments. Bullet points are fine at this stage
  • Decide on your central argument or theme
  • Organise your information logically, using one point to lead on to the next point in support of your central argument
  • Summarise your argument into one short, sharp, shiny paragraph. Create an unforgettable headline for it
  • Use this paragraph as your email ‘pitch’ to the editor of the media outlet you consider most appropriate. Put your fabulous headline in as the subject line, then press send!
  • If the editor rejects your pitch, ask why. You will learn a lot about what editors want and why your idea didn’t meet their needs if you are brave enough to ask the question
  • Take this information on board and decide whether to rethink your idea and try again with the same editor (ask them if they would like you to!) or whether to pitch it to the editor of the next media outlet on your list 
  • Don’t begin writing an opinion piece for a specific media outlet until you have the go-ahead from the editor and make sure you both agree on word length and deadline

In the writing phase: 

  • Use a format that imitates the way you wrote essays in high school. A simplified format is outlined below.

Format:

  1. Introduction – this is sometimes best written when you have finished writing the piece
  2. Body of the work

Point 1 – supported with examples, facts, anecdotes, or quotes.

Note: Create your own examples and if using facts, anecdotes or quotes from your research, make sure you appropriately attribute them 

Point 2 – [as above] 

Point 3 – [as above] 

[More points – but only if necessary!]

Note: Stick to your central theme – don’t introduce other arguments. Avoid over-explaining or telling too much fine detai

3. Conclusion 

  • Review, edit, refine. Use Spellcheck (check that your version of Word is set to Australian English). If grammar is not your thing, a program like Grammarly may be useful
  • Ask a friend or colleague to review your finished piece. Consider whether or not to edit it in line with their comments or suggestions
  • When you are happy with it, submit to the editor by the deadline. If there is any possibility that you won’t meet the deadline, let the editor know as soon as possible

Need help writing for the media? Contact 64 Media

Our next blog will look at the process of planning and writing media releases. 

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