News flash: The opinion page is looking for fresh blood.
Why write? The Yale Daily News opinion page is the place for on-campus debate. Columns that have appeared on this page have not only responded to protests, but caused them, too. Some have received national attention — both from the press and awards committees. Former columnists include one-time Bush speech writer David Frum ’82 and Washington Post White House reporter Dana Milbank ’90, among countless others in politics and the media.
The good news is that, contrary to popular belief, there are no “prerequisites” for writing a Yale Daily News opinion column. You don’t have to be a political junkie … or even a poli sci major. You don’t have to be the former editor in chief of your high school paper … or even the current editor of the Yale Law Review. And you certainly don’t need to be the most (overtly) opinionated person you know — you just need to have an opinion.
If you’re looking for inspiration, here are a few pointers:
1) Go Local
This page will run opinions on national and international events, but its focus is still on Yale and the city around it. We are looking first and foremost for sharp commentary on campus issues — from dining halls to academic policies, from race relations to sexual attitudes. You may not be an expert on North Korea, but you are probably pretty well-versed on Saybrook and Branford.
At the same time, too few Yale students go to Yale without really setting foot in New Haven. As part of a paperwide effort to integrate town and gown, we’re especially interested in hearing perspectives on the city, whether they’re about politics, social issues, urban planning, or anything else. If you’ve had substantial firsthand experience with the city and have something to say about it, we’re happy to listen.
2) Be Different
We’re not The New York Times or The Washington Post, which means you don’t need to be the next Maureen Dowd or George Will. As a Yale student writing for a Yale publication, all you need to be is yourself. Those who want “straightforward” political commentary can (depending on their preferences) log onto their favorite blogs, check out National Review or The Nation, or turn on CNN. But only you can inject a uniquely Yale angle into whatever you’re writing about — politics or not. A related note: Considering the generally liberal tone of Yale’s politics, we’re especially interested in alternative (conservative or otherwise) viewpoints.
3) Get Creative
Of course, we’re not just looking for meditations on politics (though meditations on politics are certainly welcome). As long as you have an argument, feel free to write about anything that interests you. And if writing isn’t your thing, we’re happy to publish well-drawn comics and cartoons.
Finally, a few technicalities: Columns should be about 800 words, give or take a few. Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org and include some kind of contact information (preferably a cell phone number). You can also feel free to send along op-ed ideas even if you haven’t gotten to a first draft. And although we are primarily an undergraduate publication, pieces from graduate and professional school students are always welcome.
Once your submission is accepted, it will still be edited. We’ll help you make your argument clearer, check your facts and polish your style. But we don’t want changing your point of view — and to make sure that doesn’t happen, we ask you to come to 202 York Street to go over the op-ed with us.
So whether you’re interested in writing once a year or once a week, let us know. It’s simple, really: You provide the words … and we’ll provide thousands of people to read them.
Elana Bildner, a senior in Branford College, is the News’ editorials editor.