Monday, June 23, 2008

New Study Confirms Women MIA from OpEd Pages

We knew this before, but a new study from Rutgers proves it yet again, and the NYTimes reports it: "Study Finds Imbalance on 3 Newspapers’ Op-Ed Pages". In the words of Helaine Olen, "I'm shocked! Gambling at Rick's!"

The authors of the study, Bob Sommer (who teaches public policy communications and is president of Observer Media, publisher of The New York Observer) and John R. Maycroft, a graduate student in public policy, got their data by combing through 366 opinion articles written by college teachers or researchers and published by three newspapers: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Star-Ledger, the largest-circulation newspaper in New Jersey. Their study will be published in the journal Politics and Policy. Read more about it here.

Calling all ye women: SUBMIT YOUR OPEDS! To learn how, come to Woodhull's next nonfiction writing retreat on July 11-13, where Katie Orenstein of The Oped Project will be teaching oped writing--and I'll be teaching nonfiction book proposals! More info here.

(And thanks, Helaine, for the early morning heads up!)


John and Olivia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deborah Siegel said...

Not sure what happened to that comment, which was from one of the study's author, and which I was about to respond to! Come back, comment, come back!

Deborah Siegel said...

AHA - found it. Am posting it again (unless, John, you had deleted it for some reason?) Here tis:

"I was a co-author of the study, and I was shocked when I put the numbers together. In our paper we don't try to explain why men are so dominant on the Op-Ed page, but it's obviously something that needs more attention. Thanks for posting the article!"

John and Olivia said...

I'm back. Pardon the joint name above--it's a shared account.

Deborah Siegel said...

Welcome back, John! And no worries whatsoever re joint account - cheers to Olivia! I had wanted to express gratitude to you and your coauthor for pulling together the study. So helpful to have hard numbers to make the case to powers that be. May your study travel far and wide, and thank you, from the bottom of this woman oped writer's heart, for the work that you do.

Marjorie said...

Dear Deborah, one of the things I'm finding as I navigate the world of newspaper publishing/freelance writing is the simple fact that women don't know that they can submit to the op-ed pages. Sure, the page usually has some tiny-font invitation to readers to submit their contributions squeezed down at the very bottom of the page, but I do think that many women believe that the Letters to the Editor section is the only game in town.

I landed my column gig fairly easily: I wrote a letter to the editor that the latter liked, and when he expressed his interest in my writing, I emailed him right back and asked him if I could meet with him in person for 5 minutes to discuss any potential for contributions. He responded by saying that he couldn't pay me but that he would be happy to meet with me. I ended up contributing dozens of columns and articles for him over the course of six or so months (the feature articles were paid, the columns were not).

Eventually, though, I met with him again and asked about becoming a paying columnist. He agreed, saying that I'd developed a good niche and audience. I'm now one of their handful of weekly columnists. It's not a lot of money, but it's great exposure. (A couple of my columns have been picked up by news aggregators and disseminated nationally.)

A lot of it, then, is really just picking up the phone and asking for the opportunity. Or simply writing a good letter to the editor or column and just submitting it over the transom. A column written and submitted has a decent chance of getting accepted; a column that's never written stands zero chance of acceptance.