Your Help Requested: MoveOn.Org Trying To Dupe Newspapers

A little bird forwarded me an email from asking minions to write editorials for local newspapers and they have even provided what to say along with the best way to ensure they get published.

We need your help. Read the following mission from, and if you see any letters to the editor or even editorials that look anything like this, please let me know.

Dear [insert minion name here - .ed]

Thank you for volunteering last week to write an editorial in your local paper calling on our leaders to get serious about Iraq.

This is a critical moment: the CIA leak scandal has highlighted the White House role in deceiving the nation when we went to war, and the public is turning against the continued occupation in Iraq.

As a veteran or member of a military family, your voice is among the most credible when it comes to demanding that politicians get serious about investigating the lies that led us into Iraq and establishing an exit strategy to bring our men and women home safely.

Please take the time to write and submit your guest column (or "op-ed") today or tomorrow—if we can get dozens of articles published across the country in the next week, written by people connected to the war, it will have a real impact.

This e-mail outlines how to write an op-ed and some points you should cover. Op-eds are basically opinion pieces that are written by citizens with a particular point of view. They usually appear on the page opposite the actual editorials (which represent the official opinion of the paper's editorial board). They're like letters to the editor, only longer.

Writing an op-ed might seem intimidating if you've never done it before, but it's really not hard. Here are the basic steps:

  • Decide which paper you're submitting your op-ed to and figure out that paper's requirements.
  • Write your op-ed and have a friend or colleague edit it. We've suggested some points to make, but as someone connected to this war, telling your story, from your heart, is the most important thing to do.
  • Submit your op-ed by e-mail or fax (you're submitting this not as a representative of MoveOn, but as a local veteran/military family member with something to say about the war).
  • Call to follow up and make sure they received it.

Below, we've attached two helpful guides: How to Get an Op-Ed Published, and Suggestions for What to Write.

The most important thing is just to do it. Set aside some time and write it today or tomorrow if possible. It will make a difference.

Thank you for your courage and your willingness to speak out.

–Tom, Marika, Justin, Rosalyn and the Political Action Team
  Thursday, November 10th, 2005

1. Suggestions for What to Write

Last week, we emailed you about Senate Democrats' dramatic push for an intelligence investigation. Unfortunately, it went largely unnoticed, other than a few stories that focused on the political fireworks.

But what's at stake—determining how the Bush sdministration misled America into war—is too important to let this moment fade into obscurity. So we encourage you to describe this event in your op-ed and focus your piece on the need for Congress to hold the administration accountable, and to push for an exit strategy from Iraq.

The bipartisan panel created as a result of Democrats' stand will report back no later than Monday, November 14th. This date is a good hook for your Op-Ed, because it makes it timely—and newspapers are more likely to publish a column that's linked to timely news events.

If you submit it by Friday (November 11th) you can refer to the fact that the report is expected to come out on Monday. If you submit it on Monday or later, you should find out what happens with the panel's report, and refer to that (we'll e-mail you as soon as we know what happened). Either way, tying your op-ed to this news event will increase your chances of getting it published.

Here are some points you can make:

The investigation: Senate Democrats forced Republicans leaders to stop stonewalling an investigation into the misuse, manipulation and manufacturing of intelligence in the lead up to the war.

  • A bold move: Led by Minority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Democrats forced a rare "closed session" to demand progress on an intelligence investigation that had been stalled by Republicans. "They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why," Reid told USA Today. For more info, see the following column and news article:



  • Action by November 14th: Democrats got Republicans to agree to the creation of a panel made up of three Democrats and three Republicans who will report on the progress of this investigation by November 14 th. But this is just the first step. Republican leaders must stop stalling. Congress needs to do a thorough investigation of the lies that led us to war, and then hold the Administration accountable.

The war: We need an exit plan from Iraq with a timeline that starts now.

  • Misled: President Bush and the Republicans in Congress misled America into the war in Iraq. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the rationale for the war was based on faulty intelligence or distortions. We need an exit plan from Iraq with a timeline that starts now.
  • Reckless: The Bush administration has been reckless with the handling of the war. More than 2,000 American soldiers have been killed. Thousands more have been permanently maimed. War costs exceed $250 billion. We need an exit plan from Iraq with a timeline that starts now.
  • Plan for the Troops: The president and Congress don't have any plan to get us out of Iraq. Our soldiers deserve leaders with a plan that will bring them home. The best way to support the troops is to bring them home safely. We need an exit plan from Iraq with a timeline that starts now.
  • Congress' Job: Congress hasn't asked any tough questions or done any oversight of the president. They also certainly haven't stood up and demanded an exit strategy with a timeline to bring the troops home. Members of Congress should support plans like Senator Russ Feingold has proposed in the Senate or HJ Res 55—the bipartisan Homeward Bound Act. We need an exit plan from Iraq with a timeline that starts now.

2. How to get an Op-Ed published

How Is An Op-Ed Different From A Letter To The Editor?

An op-ed is a guest column published in the opinion section of a newspaper. It is different from a standard letter to the editor both in length and in content. While a letter is usually 200 words or less, a guest op-ed is typically 500 to 750 words. While a letter is supposed to represent the typical reader, a guest op-ed is written by someone with some specific credential that makes them more of an expert on the issue they are discussing.

What Makes Someone An Expert?

Someone with a closer-than-normal perspective on the issue they are discussing is an expert. This may include a military mother discussing the war, a local lawyer discussing the impact of a Supreme Court nomination, or a teacher discussing cuts in education. In this case, you should submit this not as a MoveOn volunteer or representative, but as a local citizen and military family member/veteran.

Why Write An Op-Ed?

The opinion section is one of the most heavily read parts of a newspaper, and op-eds are particularly well-read by the public and by key opinion leaders.

What Do Editors Look For In An Op-Ed?

Several factors that make a good op-ed are: timeliness of topic, inclusion of a local angle to that topic, a strong personal narrative or engaging story, an opinion that stakes out new ground or clarifies the debate, a thought-provoking opinion that can get people talking, inclusion of how the writer's personal expertise allowed for special insight on the topic, and quality writing.

Several factors that make a bad op-ed are: bland ideas, issues that appear obscure, having no real opinion or conclusion, blatant regurgitation of talking points, not being timely or localized, and the obvious promotion of an event or organization in a way that reads like a press release.

Steps To Submitting An Op-Ed:

  • Check requirements: Check the word-limit and other op-ed requirements of your local paper. They are usually printed on the opinion page and on the website. Requirements for the biggest 100 papers in the country are listed here:
  • Write: Write a draft. Have some fresh eyes look it over for the requirements above. Finalize your draft.
  • Sign: Sign your draft with your title or area of expertise after your name. Also include: address, day and evening phone numbers, and email address. These will not be printed but editors need this information to follow up with you.
  • Submit: Send via e-mail to the e-mail address specified for op-eds. You may also want to fax to make sure all bases are covered. Be sure to put "GUEST OP-ED" up top so it is not confused for a letter to the editor. It would also help editors if up top you had a very brief listing of vital information such as: Topic, Author, Author's Title or Expertise, Word Count.
  • Verify: It is vital to call the paper after the op-ed is submitted to verify the opinion page editor got your fax or email. With larger papers, you might want to wait a day after submitting before you make your call. With smaller papers, you can call within a couple hours.
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