Most newspapers publish an opinion editorial page next to the editorial page. The newspaper’s staff, syndicated columnists, or national and community opinion leaders often write the articles. However, the editors of most newspapers welcome the opinions of local citizens and leaders in order to add depth of perspective to their publication.
Although most newspapers keep an open mind in determining the content of their opinion editorials, some newspapers will be more inclined to publish an opinion piece on conservation funding than others. That’s why it is important to research the newspaper in advance to understand what kind of editorials it publishes, as well as what issues are covered in the stories. Remember that a newspaper will not publish a story unless it feels it represents a unique or different perspective.
When you have decided to write an opinion editorial, arrange a meeting with the opinion editorial page editor to discuss your ideas and the subject you wish to write about for the newspaper. If they agree to publish your editorial, make sure you get the details on how long the story should be and vehemently observe all deadlines. Finally, if the story is printed, write a thank you note to the editor and keep in touch to update them with additional information on the conservation funding campaign.
What to Say in Opinion Editorial:
Give a concise, but thorough, background on the issue or campaign. Remember, the majority of people reading the story may not have an understanding of the issue. Give a thoughtful, yet brief, background on the issue before venturing into more details of the campaign.
Strengthen your message by citing national trends that show support for your issue. Some factors that favor supporting parks and recreation include: a strong economy, the recent successful passage of open space initiatives in the previous tow election years, the bipartisan support for the issue, the strength and diversity of the constituency, and the broad range of benefits parks and recreation provides for Americans.
Localize the story. Although parks and recreation is very broad and touches lives all across the U.S., the audience for your opinion editorial will want to know how the program affects their community. Provide the reader with specific examples of well-known local parks, recreations centers, and wildlife refuges and give some examples of how this legislation can benefit the community in the future.
Highlight the success of congressional support for the issue. An opinion editorial allows you to stress the importance of support for the issue from both local and national elected officials. For example, draw attention to the fact that more than 315 U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA, H.R. 701) last year.
Get the right individual to sign the opinion editorial. A local newspaper is more apt to allow a community leader to author an editorial. Do you want the focus of the article to be about recreation? Then it makes sense during your grassroots constituency-building to find a local athlete or coach who may have some name recognition or standing in the community. Other potential authors could be local “smart growth” leaders, recreation businesses, historic preservationists, wildlife activists or managers, local elected officials, or other members of the community who are recognized for a specific skill or leadership trait.