I have a great job. On any given day, I’ll pick up my phone and gulp. On the other end could be actress Mia Farrow, civil rights activist Julian Bond, an agent for the then-alive Moammar Gadhafi, author Bobbi Mason, a mom raising a daughter with Downs syndrome, Elizabeth Warren (before she became the U.S. senator from Massachusetts) or a teenager who wants to explain why she littered her face with piercings.
They all had interesting stories to tell and wanted readers of the Chicago Tribune to hear them out. They got the chance.
As editor of the Commentary and Perspective pages, I am responsible for selecting insightful commentaries and opinions on the important issues of the day. Selecting well-written pieces is easy. But I really have to search for the essays on dry -- but important -- topics that I think readers might benefit from.
Case in point: David A. Dana, a law professor at Northwestern University School of Law, wrote a wonderful piece on fracking. (Yes, fracking.) Good from beginning to end. John N. Maclean, who has written four books about wildland fire, wrote a riveting piece on why everyone east of the Mississippi River should care about forest fires. I didn’t at first. I care now.
Because the paper receives such a high volume of submissions, we’ve set some loose rules.
We’re looking for well-reasoned analysis from weighty to whimsical.
We are not looking for: Ax-grinding, spleen-venting tirades; direct rebuttals of or responses to news stories or other op-ed articles (Voice of the People is the proper forum for those); self-serving advocacy pieces (Ahem, politicians).
Articles should be between 500 to 800 words. All finished manuscripts (no drafts) must include a short note containing your name, address, contact numbers and credentials. You must have some expertise in the field or, in the case of an essay, some direct personal experience.
Unfortunately, the volume of submission is such that we will only contact you if we plan to use your submission.
We edit and/or trim articles as little as possible, but we reserve the right to do so as necessary. Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re looking forward to receiving them.
-- Marcia Lythcott