New York Times Editors: The Art & Science of Opinion Pieces

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Thomas Feyer, Letters Editor at The New York Times, and David Shipley, Deputy Page Editor and Op-Ed Editor, talk about “The Art & Science of Opinion Pieces.”

They impart valuable information on their processes, and offer numerous tips, some surprising, on how to improve your chances. For example, Feyer explains how best “to attract his attention.” You should first choose to send the letter via email; if not email, the next best thing is fax. Your last option should be postal mail. By the time he receives it, it is quite likely he has already run letters addressing the topic you wrote on. Other tips and suggestions:

  • Keep it short and brief. 150-250 words a good target.
  • Send it in early in the day. They look at the first batch early, and he will most likely choose one from the first batch of letters he receives.
  • Refer to an article in the paper.
  • Keep it civil, be engaging. Wit and humor are welcome. Irony and sarcasm does not translate well on the page.
  • Write about a topic off the beaten path. You may be the only one who does so, and your chances of publication go way up.