Get an article published on a ban
October 17, 2012
Aim: to make a newspaper editor think that your opinion article about a treaty banning nuclear weapons is worth publishing
- Investigate: Get an overview of what is already being written about nuclear weapons in your country. To find news articles about nuclear weapons, the website news.google.com is a good place to start. Type the word for nuclear weapons in your language in the search field and start investigating. Most public libraries also have either electronic or ordinary subscriptions of local, national and international newspapers. Spend a couple of hours reading, focus on new information about nuclear weapons, and try to think about how this information can be made relevant locally or nationally.
- Target: For some strange reason, the editors of opinion pages love conflicts. So to increase the likelihood of an editor publishing your opinion piece, identify a person or an institution to criticize. For your purposes, the most obvious target will probably be your own government, or individual ministers in your government, such as your Foreign, Defence or Prime Minister. Other potential targets is leaders of companies investing in nuclear weapons, political parties and individual parliamentarians as well as other civil society actors.
- Frame the issue: This is the most important, and also the most challenging task. First, make the opinion piece newsworthy by linking your argument to a recent or on-going event, such as an international meeting, a nuclear near-accident, a new policy programme, a recently published study etc. Second, based on your investigation, try and present one problem relating to the existence of nuclear weapons. Then present the idea of a global ban on nuclear weapons as a solution to this particular problem.
- Call: Before you do any proper writing, identify the phone number of the editor of the opinion pages in the newspaper you would like make publish your opinion piece. Call the editor during office hours, present your framing, and ask him or her whether this is something he or she could be interested in. If the editor is positive to your idea, proceed to step 5. If the editor tells you he or she is not interested, call another newspaper and try again. If you are turned down in more than three times, there is probably something wrong with your target or your framing. Go back to step 2 and try again.
- Write: As soon as you’ve got a “go” from the editor, start writing immediately, and send the piece to him or her before he or she gets a chance to forget about your phone call. Remember that 80 per cent of the readers will only read the title and the introduction of your opinion piece, so put the most important things you would like to say first. The title should be short and arouse curiosity, while the introduction should summarise your main point. When writing about nuclear weapons, it is easy to become trapped in an overly technical language. So when you write, assume that the one you’re writing for doesn’t know anything about the issue.
- Send: As soon as your opinion piece is published, post a link to it on Facebook and Twitter, and wait for your target to respond. If you get an answer, there’s a good chance you’ll be given a chance to respond.