Opinion Writing

Write marketable essays for Web and print, coached by an award-winning opinion editor

  • sections:
  • Wednesdays 6:45-9:45pm ET, 4 sessions full schedule

The Web has vastly increased opportunities for a freelance writer seeking to publish short essays on just about any subject. How can you get your voice into the mix? It takes a combination of skills: finding the sharpest, freshest idea; researching and shaping the most compelling, persuasive argument; and finding the right editor and publication to approach with the most compelling, persuasive pitch.

This course puts the overwhelming marketplace into focus by concentrating on the four categories of commentary that are most accessible to generalist writers: news commentary, social commentary, travel and memoir. By brainstorming, researching, refining and rewriting, students will complete an essay and a pitch that are ready for an editor’s eyes.

In this class, you will learn how to:

  • Find and refine an idea in conversation with yourself and with others
  • Research your subject with an eye toward shaping a fresh point of view
  • Choose among various approaches to storytelling and argument-making
  • Study publications not as a reader, but as a writer, to understand what editors are thinking
  • Revise, rewrite and finish your essay

By the end of class, you will have:

A completed opinion essay and pitch letter, with a list of publications and editors to query.

Leslie Seifert was editor of the Sunday Opinion section of Newsday and has edited bloggers and columnists for Advertising Age. He has won two editing awards from the National Association of Opinion Page Editors. Seifert was an adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism from 1985-2000, teaching original courses in opinion writing, investigative thinking, and print versus broadcast copy editing.
In the mid-1990s he created a journalism program for at-risk students at an alternative public high school in Queens and in 2011 founded Journalists in Schools, a non-profit organization that is creating the first student-driven news network to serve public high schools across New York City. He was the arts and media reporter on the staff that launched the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour on PBS in the early 1980s. In recent years he started In Your Voice, a coaching service for students writing application essays.
Seifert has published articles in The Wall Street Journal, the Columbia Journalism Review, Education Week, and the Bergen Record.