Our Mentor-Editor Program

The Mentor-Editor Program is our high-impact micro-mentoring program, in which experienced journalists volunteer to connect with and give feedback to new and promising voices.  The team includes over 120 veteran journalists  across all platforms—from editors to bloggers, from Genius grant winners to weekly columnists to war correspondents and Pulitzer Prize winners. On average, each Mentor-Editor spends one hour a month (or they can choose to mentor more or less frequently) lifting the voices of others. Although they typically work with a Mentee for only a short time, they statistically double her odds of success  A roster of current OpEd Project Mentor-Editors is here. 

How It Works:  Alums of The OpEd Project's Write To Change The World workshop may submit a draft op-ed and request a mentor match any time in the month after participating in the program. If you use the Mentor-Editor program within one month of taking an OpEd Project seminar, we will automatically extend your access for two additional months (three months in total). The OpEd Project commits to matching any alum whose draft meets our definition of an op-ed: it must be a timely, evidence-based argument of public value; and no more than 1000 words. Upon receiving a match request and a solid op-ed draft, we query Mentor-Editors to make the best available match.  Mentees are told it can take up to three business days, although we strive to make it happen as quickly as possible.  Mentees come from all walks of life--from an astrophysicist at Yale to a blogger in Syria, to a woman in a prison reentry program—and are often top experts in their field. We strive to make matches that will enrich both the Mentee and the Mentor-Editor alike.   (For more details, scroll down.) 
 
What Mentor-Editors do: Upon accepting a match, Mentor-Editors commit to providing constructive, rapid feedback to their Mentee on her ideas - ideally immediately, and always within 24 hours. Usually, the process involves 2-3 back and forths, and on average Mentor-Editors say they spend about two hours in total on a match (although there are no time requirements). Mentor-Editors may comment on broad ideas, suggest copy edits, or both.  Mentor-Editors are welcome to share personal contacts, make referrals or help Mentees pitch pieces if they like, but it is not expected. The expectation is simply that the Mentor-Editor will provide feedback and encouragement in a one-time, one-op-ed interaction (unless Mentor-Editor and Mentee both wish to continue).

Time Commitment:  As a default, Mentor-Editors agree to mentor one new underrepresented/female writer every other month, on an idea they are advancing in the form of an op-ed.  However, Mentor-Editors can expand or contract their commitment as needed, with a minimum commitment of mentoring four times a year.   On average Mentor-Editors spend 2 hours on each match – but there is no minimum or maximium time requirement.  

Results: Statistically, Mentor-Editors more than double a Mentee’s odds of success in publishing her op-ed—to a nearly 60% success rate.  Participants have published in virtually every major outlet, across many platforms. They have gone on to receive book contracts, raises, fellowships, job offers, funding for their start-ups and nonprofits, to appear on radio and TV, to brief Congress, to force the Pentagon to acknowledge civilian casualties in drone strikes, to influence incarceration policy, to launch local and national initiatives, and so much more.

Who Mentor-Editors Are:  Mentor-Editors include a growing list of prestigious journalists, columnists and editors—including: Sheri Fink (Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist); Maura Casey (former New York Times Editorial Board), Connie Shultz (Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Plain Dealer), Joe Loya (former prison writer, columnist, CNN contributor); Stacy Sullivan (war correspondent), Lisa Pryor (former Managing Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald Op-Ed Page), Michael Oreskes (Senior Vice President and Editorial Director, NPR); Harriet Washington (author of Medical Apartheid and New York Times op-ed contributor), and Laura Mazer (former managing editor of Creators Syndicate, the international agency that represents some of the most widely published opinion writers around the globe)—who are committed to finally, once and for all, improving the diversity and quality of our world’s conversation.

How to Play:

1.    You may request a match any time in the one month after completing a full-day OpEd Project Write to Change the World workshop, by emailing your request and draft op-ed to mentoreditor@theopedproject.org. The subject of the email should include your name and the words “MATCH REQUEST.” In the body of the email, please include (1) the date and location of your seminar, (2) the word count of your draft, and (3) a one-sentence summary of your op-ed that begins with “This piece is about…” If you use this program at least once within the one-month window after attending our workshop, we will automatically extend your access for an additional two months (for a total of three months).

2.    You must submit a solid draft op-ed to initiate the match.  It must meet The OpEd Project definition of an op-ed: a timely, evidence-based argument of public value. It should be approximately 600-800 words.  We will not match you if your op-ed draft exceeds 1000 words.

3.    Upon receiving your request, we query Mentor-Editors to find the best match for you. This process can take up to three business days, although it may be faster.

Note: If you are working on a very time-sensitive op-ed and need immediate feedback, we encourage you to tap your seminar group for peer mentoring.

4.    Mentor-Editors commit to providing positive critical feedback in a tone that encourages and inspires. We ask Mentor-Editors to do everything they can—in the manner they feel most appropriate—to empower you. They may comment on broad ideas, suggest copy edits, or both.

5.    Your mentor will not pitch your op-ed for you—that is your job.  To help you, we post submission and contact information for hundreds of media outlets on our website, and we encourage you to read our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on the Resources tab of our website.  In it, we address questions like, "Where should I pitch?" and "How do I follow up?”

6.    Although Mentor-Editors occasionally share personal contacts, you should not expect this.  

7.    Your Mentor-Editor will provide feedback in a one-time, one-op-ed interaction.

8.    This program was founded to support your voice. Please do not use it for ghostwriting 

9.    Mentor-Editors are volunteering to help you--please remember to thank them!

 

To support the Mentor-Editor program, you can donate here.  To apply to be a Mentor-Editor, contact mentoreditor@theopedproject.org.