Updated: Thursday, March 8, 2018, 2:43 PM
As an opinion editor, I seek out diverse voices from across the region to share points of view on the news of the day. The best part is getting to talk to really smart people about the most interesting and thought-provoking topics in the news.
But since I’ve become an editor on the Opinion team at the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com, I’ve noticed a troubling pattern. Day after day, my inbox fills up with hundreds of emails from people eager to have their views shared with the readers. The majority of the emails and submissions are from white men.
That worries me, because when the majority of people seeking to use our platform represent only one slice of the gender and racial spectrum, we’re only hearing a small percentage of the smart, nuanced perspectives out there in the world.
In honor of Women’s History Month, I encourage women to start sharing their opinions with the publications that you enjoy reading regularly. If that’s the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com, I hope you’ll drop me a line.
Whether it’s a short letter to the editor, an op-ed piece advocating for change, or a first-person essay about your perspective on a newsy topic, having your opinion vetted and published by a credible source can give you the audience, the authority, and the confidence to take whatever next steps are necessary to make the change you want to see.
Social media is an incredible and powerful tool for anyone who wants to spread a message or share an opinion. Watching the grassroots efforts of #MeToo and other social-media movements is inspiring. But it’s just one tool in the toolbox.
Opinion writing has the ability to shape and steer conversations, to add nuance to complicated issues, and to shine light into corners of the world that we don’t always see. Op-ed pages in newspapers and on websites have the power — and in fact, the mission — to convene and curate diverse points of view. They can be — and should be — a platform where ideas are discussed, points are debated, perspectives are heard, and varied voices are elevated. This mission is achieved only when we’re elevating viewpoints from all people — regardless of race, gender, sexual identity, or political leanings.
In the last few months — in the post-Harvey Weinstein era of #MeToo and Time’s Up — the message to women is all about inclusion, which is a tricky thing. Inclusion has to be genuine. It’s not just about letting women into the old boys’ club or allowing them a seat at the boardroom table. Inclusion means that women’s voices and opinions and perspectives have to not only be a part of the conversation — but they have to be heard. Really heard, not just solicited for appearance’s sake and then promptly ignored.
So, my message to the women of the Philadelphia region is this: I’m here. I’m listening. Tell me what you think.
Erica Palan in an opinion editor at the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com. Send 500- to 700-word op-eds and commentary pieces to her at email@example.com.