Opinion pieces: Tips for making your point.

Opinion pieces provide a good opportunity to make a longer point about a subject. They are particularly effective in smaller, local papers and issue-focused digital publications where readers tend to spend more time with content and are likely to be influenced by community or issue-focused facts. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when crafting an opinion piece:

 

  • Opinion pieces for print publications can range in length from 300 words to 600 words, but rarely longer. While digital publications have fewer word restrictions, it’s important to remember that tolerance for longer content is low.
  • A good rule of thumb is to whittle your arguments down to three. Before writing, ask yourself, what are the three things I’d like a reader to take away on the issue?
  • Localize, localize, localize. Wherever possible, strive to make the piece relevant to the community reading it. Statistics and stories mean more when they are happening in your own back yard.
  • It is worth thinking about who should author a piece. People willing to read an entire opinion piece also pay attention to who is talking to them. Consider whether an expert, a high-profile community member or an individual who has a personal connection the issue might make the best messenger.

Sample opinion piece

When Colorado invests in health, we all win.

By XXXXXXXX

What is the value of knowing that seniors can stay in their homes longer if they receive supports they need or knowing they have access to quality long term care when they are no longer able to care for themselves? What cost should we place on making sure that all our kids have the health start they deserve, and what costs will be all pay if we don’t? What is it worth to ensure expecting moms have prenatal care?

These are just a few of the questions that we failing to fully consider as our ongoing conversation around Medicaid, in Colorado called Health First Colorado, narrows to a fixation on only one line in our state budget. While spending is important and the state budget must be balanced, we all intrinsically know that an investment in health for Colorado is a winning proposition for all of us.

Here’s a sample of what Medicaid helps with every day. It provides in-home assistance to seniors and people living with disabilities so they can live their most independent lives. It pays for nursing home care for those who need it but can’t afford it. It provides cancer screenings. It provides prenatal care and for about 45 percent of all babies born in Colorado, it pays for their birth. It allows for transportation to and from medical care for those who have no means to provide it for themselves. This list is just the beginning.

We know that it’s cheaper to help a senior stay in their home if they are able. We know that it’s less expensive in the long run to help a child get a healthy start, stay in school and live up to their fullest potential. We know that babies born healthy from good prenatal care have less expensive births than those born with challenges.

We also know that Health First Colorado is working on behalf of one in every five residents, 75 percent of whom are working. That means your neighbor, or the staffer at your local grocery store or the person in the car next to you at the traffic light is likely to be using Medicaid to access the health care they need. When people get the right care at the right time in the right place, we all save on health care expenses and the system functions more efficiently and effectively.

We understand instinctively that access to health care for us all has benefits to us all. And we shouldn’t let a few of our policy makers reduce that kind of benefit to a single line in the state budget. We ought to demand they acknowledge the importance to real people’s lives and to our state’s economy. We ought to let them know that we expect the investment to be made on our behalf.