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Do you have an opinion? Do you have a strong voice? Love to debate? If yes, then you have a future as an opinion writer if you want it. This type of writing can be found in newspapers on the “op-ed” page, in syndicated columns, and in articles. Opinion writers also make great speech writers. A quick way for opinion writers to get published in a newspaper and start accumulating clips in by writing letters to the editor. Be aware of the issues in your community and nationwide and write 300-500 words on your views on the topic. These are now your published opinion writing clips that you can send in when submitting your resume, stories, or queries to publications.

A career as an opinion writer can be a harsh one, especially if you wish to have many friends. This is because you are calling the public’s attention to the issues and in doing so, will probably offend at least one person. Think of Bill O’Rielly. But opinion writing, if done with humor and wit, can make you very popular, like Jon Stewart host and co-writer of The Daily Show.

Opinions and letters to the editor need to start with an attention grabbing opener. If you are referencing an article or current news event, you should mention it.  Make sure your point is clear and that readers know what issue you’re referring to. In the next paragraph start making and supporting your views. Be specific. Give names, data, facts, dates. Make it part humor part informative.   The following is an example of a letter to the editor published March 11, 2005 in the Chicago Sun-Times.

Ex-hostage’s story has holes
“Something doesn’t add up about released Italian reporter Giuliana Sgrena’s story. If you were just released as a hostage in Iraq and claimed to see no checkpoint, no people, would you drive at a ”regular speed” or would you haul butt? I just can’t believe they weren’t driving as fast as possible to get out of that country if no one else was around. She claimed they were driving slowly because the danger was behind them, yet they were still in a war zone. There is a huge contradiction there.

She speaks worse of the U.S. troops than of the terrorists who kidnapped her at gunpoint Feb. 4 and held her for a month. And she speaks nothing of the unconfirmed $1 million paid to terrorists for her release, money that no doubt is now intended to harm troops, journalists and innocent Iraqis. Kidnapping has just become profitable in Iraq.”

This situation is tragic in so many ways and caused by many circumstances, but all the reporter sees is the evil United States. The loss of the intelligence officer is horrible, but I also think that with her refusal to give the United States information, there is some deflecting going on with this situation. I think the United States deserves some answers as well.”