Tips on writing an Op Ed article

The major newspapers serving Australian capital cities have weekly circulations (print and digital) of around one to three million readers:

PaperCityWeekly circulation
Daily TelegraphSydney3.2mMurdoch
Herald SunMelbourne3.1mMurdoch
The AgeMelbourne3.0mFairfax
The AustralianNational2.6mMurdoch
Courier MailBrisbane1.9mMurdoch
Australian Financial ReviewNational1.3mFairfax
West AustralianPerth1.0mWest Australian newspapers
The AdvertiserAdelaide1.0mMurdoch
Canberra TimesCanberra0.47mFairfax
Weekly TimesNational0.31mFairfax
The HeraldNewcastle0.25mFairfax
The Saturday PaperNational0.21m
The MercuryHobart0.20mMurdoch

It’s very difficult to get an opinion piece accepted for publication in one of the major metropolitan dailies. But here are a few tips:

The first paragraph

This should catch the reader’s attention. You have to convince the reader your topic is interesting and you’ve got something original to say about it. And it’s best to link your idea to one of the week’s big stories, if at all possible.


You don’t need a roadmap but the first paragraph should at least indicate that you’ll be explaining the why of your topic.


There’s different styles to choose from: a personal story, your take on the background of a news story of the day, a statement of where your organisation stands on a particular topic.


Conciseness is golden. 500-700 words is the Goldilocks medium. 800 words absolutely max.


Try to inject some humour into your piece. A clever phrase, an unusual word, a singular insight, will help to keep your reader reading.


If you have a particular personal interest in the topic, say so. For example, “Disclosure: my father works at the CSIRO”. When writing about politics, you generally don’t need to disclose if you are a member of a particular party, unless writing in the lead up to an election.


Finish with a one sentence description of who you are. For example, “Dr Meredith Doig is President of the Rationalist Society of Australia.” Papers will normally not publish your email address or website because they want to channel reader responses through their Letters to the Editor page or their website.




All the more reason.