Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Op-Ed Project: Writing To Change the World

This was one of the more interesting panels at BlogHer 2009. Journalist Katie Orenstein started the Op-Ed Project to encourage women to write and submit opinion pieces to newspapers. This is a great example of applying a practical solution to a long-standing problem. Since women are so underrepresented in print media this organization will help get them the access that's been denied. I think part of the problem with newspapers and some of these monthly publications is they usually have near complete saturation of white males - and even then they're further limited to those from similar backgrounds. 

So now of course they're failing because they've historically shut out everyone else. Some of it was intentional and some of it is from people not creating opportunities. One of the great common sense techniques I like with this project is how it encourages the participation of more diverse voices while making an end-run around the existing barriers. Not everyone has time to blog so writing a 1000-word Op-Ed piece can be a great way to get a message out.
What has driven me to think of The Op-Ed Project in big terms is the experience of seeing its impact on a few people, and imagining that writ large. A twenty-two year-old woman published an op-ed, got into journalism school, and now works for NPR. She said the op-ed changed her life. Another woman wrote an op-ed on the financial crisis, became an expert cited in newspapers, and now has a TV deal–where she advises millions of Americans trapped in the mortgage mess. Seeing these kinds of things made me think about the potential value of the project, if it could bring similar results to a large number of people–at which point, it no longer seemed like a nice idea, but a social responsibility. It offers an alternative to quotas and artificial, patronizing approaches to increasing women’s representation. Rather than demanding that editors balance gender (perhaps at the expense of publishing the best op-eds), The Op-Ed Project presumes we are all equally smart, talented, and valuable—and will be equally represented in public debate if given the opportunity. - - Echoing Green website interview
As we continue our discussion about the need for black women to divest from people/situations that don't work, we need to look to the future landscape of what that will be and what it will require to maintain. In building a community of like-minded individuals discussing matters where there's common interest is a good way of reaching out to others. Our opinions do matter.  If you click on the link to the site you will find a training schedule in a city that may be near you or request one for your area. Carpe Diem!

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Khadija said...

I like practical, actionable ideas like the Op-Ed Project! Thanks for mentioning it.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Unknown said...

This is such a great idea. I have received such encouragement and enlightenment since I began reading your posts. I thank you from my heart, for your words and your work on our behalf.

g-e-m2001 said...

I actually participated in both of The Op-Ed workshops at Blogher09. In fact, when I launch whatever it is that I launch, still mulling, one component of the entity would be a team of Black women that cranked out op eds on a regular basis, that would be all that they would do.

Whenever I hold, whatever it is i am going to hold, still mulling, in addition to workshops on establishing PACS, and 501c3, c4, 527s etc, I want to include the op-ed workshop.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Khadijah: Yes I will post more of these types of organizations as I hear about them. It costs $300 but I'm sure some big corporation would be willing to sponsor lower income women to participate.

me: I really appreciate you letting me know that you've been encouraged reading this blog. We're having some serious conversations that cause people discomfort so I'm glad to know they're not dragging everyone down.

gem2001: Oooh you have lots of great ideas I am certain! I can't wait to see what you come up with next. I definitely like the idea of the PAC.

Ananda said...

thanks for sharing info about the op ed project. like gina, i attended the op ed project session at blogher (1st one - on claiming your expertise). it was really helpful. i am still marinating on the things katie orenstien (excuse any spelling errors) talked about. i'm really excited that gina is cooking up some great things for the near future. many blessings, ananda

Unknown said...

Khadija mentions the cost of OpEd Project seminars - 300 - as being high for some people. Which is why we scholarship up to 40% of every seminar we do. Here's our scholarship policy:

We do everything possible to make The OpEd Project seminar affordable for everyone who is committed to writing an op-ed. Our scholarship protocol is as follows: We ask anyone requesting a scholarship to "pay in words" - by sending us a request in writing telling us why the assistance is needed, what op-ed you are committed to writing, and how it will contribute to changing the world. Once you have submitted a written request to us, we will work with you to find a price you can afford. We go on the honor system, but we ask that you request the minimum scholarship that will allow you to attend - so that we can accommodate others who are in need. If a discount of more than 50% is needed, we ask that you first contact your university or employer to see if they will match our scholarship, before requesting additional support from us. If that option is unavailable to you, we ask that you submit a 750-word draft op-ed, to be considered for a full scholarship. Our policy is to scholarship up to 40% of participants in any seminar. Scholarship slots are often filled well in advance, so if you are in need of a scholarship please contact us as early as possible. We very much hope you’ll be able to join us.

Unknown said...

great project. thanks for keeping me up on it.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Ananda: I'm attending BlogHer 2010 for sure. I'll be buying a ticket EARLY this time. I see the valuable information is priceless.

Katie: Welcome. That was actually me, Faith, that talked about scholarships/sponsoring. Thank you for providing that information. I'm certain there are people who need assistance due to job loss and the economy who'd appreciate it.

Brother OMi: Your welcome.

Kia said...

Thanks for the info Faith! You ladies are such blessings. I don't know yall but I love you guys! I'm sending the Op-ed info to some of my friends. Shoot I might check it out myself. I work in finance, I have strong opinions about what is going on. Maybe I can write something too! I've also let folks on facebook know about this organization.