The opinion editors at the Los Angeles Times would like to do a better job representing a diverse set of voices. Lately they’ve felt the opinion section (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. has been ignoring the views of younger adult readers (e.g. “milennials”, recent high school grads, single unmarried adults, college students, etc.). This is why they’re reaching out to you—they want to hear your perspective on the problems facing Southern California, the nation, and the globe.
You will write a 1,000-word op-ed that will appear in the Los Angeles Times. The editors want you to explore issues related to technology and social media, areas they feel that someone your age is uniquely qualified to address. Still they want to give you a little freedom in terms of topic.
Above all, they want your article to be feel current, fresh, and relevant to readers of the Los Angeles Times, so their first piece of advice is to follow the news. Visit the LA Times (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. or any other credible news source to get a feel for what’s happening in the world related to how information technology is shaping the way we interact with one another in ways big and small.
If you need more guidance, feel free to think about the following areas as you browse the news and reflect on your own writing interests:
ideological diversity and segregation
bias, motivated reasoning
democracy in a digital age
truth and misinformation online
“the Library of Everything”
the future of social media
hard vs. soft news
online consumption of news
filters, filter bubbles, social media algorithms
If you want to veer way off this list, the editors ask you get in touch with them to get prior approval.
The Los Angeles Times editors caution you from approaching this task like “the academic papers you probably do in class.” They encourage you to learn a little more about the genre of opinion pieces/op-eds through a helpful article by one of the editors (“Op-Ed, explained” (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.) and a general web search (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. so you can appreciate how op-eds may differ from genres of writing you have done in the past.
They also recommend that you get a feel for style and audience of the Los Angeles by spending time on the site. You should also look at the opinion sections of many major newspapers, cultural websites and magazines like The New York Times, The Atlantic, Time, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and Slate, to name a few.
Given the nature of your article, the Los Angeles Times expects a mix of outside evidence and personal experience. They’re okay with personal experience as long as you back things up with some sort of proof.
At the bare minimum, they request that you incorporate evidence from at least two credible outside sources. Since these editors do not know you very well yet, they also ask that you send them a brief email describing the sources and how you used them (like in an annotated bibliography).