Op-ed Writing Clinics

For the past 10 years, The Progressive Media Project has been conducting op-ed writing clinics for nonprofit groups and foundation grantees. The goal is to empower nonprofits with the confidence and the toolkit they'll need to write successful op-eds and communicate their message more effectively.

The clinic is very hands-on.

After a brief introduction, we get right down to work. We begin with a "lede writing exercise" that teaches participants how to write their crucial first sentence (the "lede") in 18 words or fewer.

From there, we provide instruction on our own typology of six kinds of op-eds. We offer concrete writing tips, including on how to overcome writer's block. We do an exercise about how to construct an argument. And we do an exercise on conclusions. Then, in the afternoon, each participant writes an op-ed in a two-hour period, which we then critique.

After each clinic, we stay in contact with participants, try to place op-eds by them, and offer ongoing editorial and messaging support.

The response to the clinics has been overwhelming. Here is some recent feedback:

Having The Progressive editors' hand-on advice was really appreciated. Succinct and meaningful.

The workshop was incredibly helpful and fun.

I've attended other communication/writing for news workshops, and didn't learn as much as here. The other programs have much bigger audiences and very little hands-on work. This is much better.

I really liked the lede and conclusion exercises.

I've been doing op-eds for a long time, although without any formal training. This workshop will be very helpful for my work.

We have provided clinics for grantees of the following foundations:

  • The Argus Foundation
  • The Ford Foundation
  • The Gill Foundation
  • The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
  • The Wisconsin Community Fund

Most of our clinics are held at our office in Madison, Wisconsin. But we occasionally will offer clinics for foundation grantees at other locations.

If you are a foundation officer and want to find out more about our writing clinics for your grantees, please contact Andrea Potter at (608) 257-4626.