What has driven me to think of The Op-Ed Project in big terms is the experience of seeing its impact on a few people, and imagining that writ large. A twenty-two year-old woman published an op-ed, got into journalism school, and now works for NPR. She said the op-ed changed her life. Another woman wrote an op-ed on the financial crisis, became an expert cited in newspapers, and now has a TV deal–where she advises millions of Americans trapped in the mortgage mess. Seeing these kinds of things made me think about the potential value of the project, if it could bring similar results to a large number of people–at which point, it no longer seemed like a nice idea, but a social responsibility. It offers an alternative to quotas and artificial, patronizing approaches to increasing women’s representation. Rather than demanding that editors balance gender (perhaps at the expense of publishing the best op-eds), The Op-Ed Project presumes we are all equally smart, talented, and valuable—and will be equally represented in public debate if given the opportunity. – – Echoing Green website interview
This was one of the more interesting panels at BlogHer 2009. Journalist Katie Orenstein started the Op-Ed Project to encourage women to write and submit opinion pieces to newspapers. This is a great example of applying a practical solution to a long-standing problem. Since women are so underrepresented in print media this organization will help get them the access that’s been denied. I think part of the problem with newspapers and some of these monthly publications is they usually have near complete saturation of white males – and even then they’re further limited to those from similar backgrounds.
So now of course they’re failing because they’ve historically shut out everyone else. Some of it was intentional and some of it is from people not creating opportunities. One of the great common sense techniques I like with this project is how it encourages the participation of more diverse voices while making an end-run around the existing barriers. Not everyone has time to blog so writing a 1000-word Op-Ed piece can be a great way to get a message out.
As we continue our discussion about the need for black women to divest from people/situations that don’t work, we need to look to the future landscape of what that will be and what it will require to maintain. In building a community of like-minded individuals discussing matters where there’s common interest is a good way of reaching out to others. Our opinions do matter. If you click on the link to the site you will find a training schedule in a city that may be near you or request one for your area. Carpe Diem!