The OpEd Project Mentor-Editor Program
The Mentor-Editor Program is our high-level, micro-mentoring volunteer program, in which experienced journalists connect with and give feedback to new and promising voices. The team includes over 85 media thought leaders at the highest levels, 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 2.5 hours a month (or they can choose to mentor more or less frequently) working with a Mentee, statistically doubling her odds of success. A roster of current OpEd Project Mentor-Editors is here.
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 2 hours in total (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 woman/minority voice each 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 once every three months. On average Mentor-Editors spend 2 hours on each Mentee match – but there is no minimum 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 - and have gone on to receive book contracts, job offers, funding for their start-ups and nonprofits, and to appear on radio and TV, brief Congress and more.
Who Mentor-Editors Are: Mentor-Editors include a growing list of prestigious writers 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 (Vice President and Senior Managing Editor for The Associated Press); 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.
2. You must submit a solid draft op-ed with your request to initiate the match. Your draft must meet The OpEd Project definition of an op-ed: it must be a timely, evidence-based argument of public value. It should be approximately 650-750 words. If your draft is greater than 1000 words, we may not initiate a match.
3. Upon receiving a request, The OpEd Project will query our pool of Mentor-Editors to find the best match. We strive to make it happen as quickly as possible. Mentees should undersand that this process can take up to 48 hours, although it is usually faster (and sometimes immediate).
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.
5. 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 that they feel most appropriate—to support and empower you. They may comment on broad ideas, suggest copy edits, or both.
6. Although Mentor-Editors may occasionally share personal contacts, you should not expect this.
7. If you want feedback on your pitch, you must include it with your submission and specifically request feedback on it. Mentor-Editors can provide feedback but they will NOT pitch your piece for you. We believe that women and other under-represented groups need to practice pitching themselves! We provide guidelines on how to do so here.
8. Your Mentor-Editor will provide feedback and encouragement in a one-time, one-op-ed interaction (unless the Mentor-Editor and the Alum both wish to continue the dialogue).
9. This program was founded to support YOUR voice. Please do not use if for ghostwriting.
10. Mentor-Editors are volunteering to help you -- please remember to thank them!