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Wanted: Opinionated people Inside N&E, News & Events Daily, PR tips

Space is set aside each Monday in our e-newsletter, News & Events Daily, for a “Viewpoints” opinion essay, and we ran one this week. The only problem: It was the first one we had run in more than three months!

Three months! That’s kind of hard to believe at this place of more than 17,000 students and 3,000 faculty and staff—many with passionate views, undoubtedly, on an array of topics relating to RIT or higher education generally (a broad theme and our only stipulation).

Here’s how this week’s piece, written by Jon Schull, interim director of the Center for Student Innovation, materialized:

As an interested citizen, I attended a Jan. 17 public hearing, hosted by the state Department of Transportation (conveniently for me at one of my former employers, Monroe Community Hospital), concerning a planned project, “Access 390,” to reconfigure I-390 entrance and exit ramps, not far from where I live near the Brighton-Rochester border.

Jon spoke passionately and eloquently about the need—and the unique opportunity this project presents—to consider bicyclist and pedestrian safety and convenience, along with the great potential to better connect the University of Rochester, Monroe Community College and RIT via multi-use trails.

He calls the connection the “Rochester Multiversity.”

Sensing an ideal “Viewpoints” essay, I e-mailed Jon the next morning to compliment him on his remarks at the hearing and to invite him to consider writing a “Viewpoints” essay on the topic for N&E Daily.

I was very pleased to hear back from him (within 10 minutes!) with the reply, “Happy to….”

Jon submitted a draft on Friday, and we ran his essay on Monday (a quick turnaround, which is ideal).

How can you turn your opinions into a ‘Viewpoints’ essay?

I occasionally remind the RIT News staff to seek “Viewpoints” essays from their beats. You’re free to contact them directly, but this time I’m going straight to the source: You, the reader (and potential writer).

If you have an idea for a topic related to RIT or higher education broadly, I invite you to contact me directly at mjsuns@rit.edu. Just keep in mind these tips:

Take a stance: Unlike at dinner parties, having strong opinions is considered a plus in opinion essays.

Target a mainstream audience: Avoid jargon and write in a style that’s clear, relatable and understandable to a wide cross section of readers.

Think “word economy”: As I’ve occasionally chided our own staff, writers write for one reason: To be read. And if their words aren’t read—perhaps because there are too many of them—what’s the point in writing them in the first place? So, say it concisely: Aim for about 500 or fewer words (we can help with editing).

To summarize: “When you write to John Q. Public, have something concrete to say; say it concretely, then quit” (from Gobbledygook Has Gotta Go—read more on clear writing).

I look forward to hearing from you!

(This essay’s word count: 494)


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