Friday, March 16, 2007
previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)
Hey, it's been two years -- let's talk about gender and op-eds again
One of the assignments for my Stafecraft class this term is that the students must draft a cogent op-ed submission on a policy issue they care about. "In this case,"cogent" not only means well-written, but written in such a way that would actually pique the interest of an op-ed page editor.
Uproars over the sparse numbers of women in newspapers, or on news programs, in magazines, and on best-seller lists regularly erupt every couple of years. A doozy occurred in 2005, after the liberal commentator Susan Estrich and Michael Kinsley, then editor of The Los Angeles Times’s opinion pages, got into a nasty scuffle over the lack of female columnists. That dustup is what motivated Ms. [Catherine] Orenstein to take her op-ed show on the road, which she has done with support from the Woodhull Institute, an ethics and leadership group for women.Two thoughts. First, after describing the assignment to my Fletcher School students -- who are generally perceived as a group of idealistic, altruistic overachievers -- their immediate reaction to the prospect of publishing an op-ed was, "How much do we get paid for it?" I might add that this query transcended gender. Small sample issues aside, I'm very dubious about the notion that women don't seek out the things that Orenstein says they don't seek out.
Second, think about that "Little Red Robin Hood" line in the excerpt, as well as this paragraph:
A bunch of women joined together on one side of the table to discuss an op-ed piece by Ms. Orenstein that appeared in June 2004 in The New York Times on the remake of the movie “The Stepford Wives.”Orenstein's expertise raises a question about the ways in which women seek to get op-eds published. Is the problem that women write on topics similar to men but face a glass ceiling at the op-ed desk? Is it that women do not write about "hard news" issues that are generally discussed in op-ed pages (politics, economics, foreign policy, social policy, ec.)? Or is the problem that what is defined as appropriate for the op-ed essays overly gendered? I tend to think it's the middle one (does Orenstein seriously think that op-eds about Little Red Riding Hood or the Stepford Wives will influence any White House?), but I'm open to suggestions from the readers. posted by Dan on 03.16.07 at 09:43 AM
Would you elaborate as to what a "cogent" op-ed piece is, i.e., how to pique the interest of editors?
Ornstein says it boils down to "the basics of a good argument, what constitutes good evidence, what’s a news hook, what’s the etiquette of a pitch." Perhaps elaborate on these?posted by: Aspiring op-ed writer on 03.16.07 at 09:43 AM [permalink]
I think I will get a lot of abuse for this, but there are a high number of female oped writers who are never-marrieds, enough for me to notice, and much more than society at large. Highly opinionated girls are a total turnoff to guys, even if they are good looking. Molly Ivins, Ann Coulter, and Maureen Dowd spring to mind but I know there are others, I used to have a longer list. Women editorial writers occupy perhaps the same position as other women writers did in the 19th century - Louisa May Alcott and Jane Austen never married in their day. Writing can be a lonely profession and particularly so for women. Perhaps not getting involved in editorial writing has a biological basis.posted by: A.M. Mora y Leon on 03.16.07 at 09:43 AM [permalink]
Post a Comment: