Columnist Application

The Michigan Daily, Winter 2016

Deadline: Thursday, Dec. 31 at midnight

Do you have a voice that needs to be shared? Do you find yourself theorizing about why events in the news happen the way they do? If you consistently find national, state, local and University current events interesting and are itching to share your opinion about said current events, then being a Michigan Daily Columnist might be the job for you. Apply here to write an approximately 750-1,000-word column once every two weeks and start contributing your perspective to our campus’ conversation.

What are the duties of a Michigan Daily Columnist?

The Michigan Daily prints every day undergraduates have class, usually Monday through Friday. Your column will fill a portion of these pages once every two weeks and be published online. Your column will be due three days in advance of the day it will be published.

  1. Submit 750-1,000-word column once every two weeks
  2. Attend all scheduled reads for your column (to submit your column you will schedule an in-person read with one of our editors in our newsroom at 420 Maynard St. in addition to submitting it online via Google Docs. At each ‘read’ you will work together with an editor to edit your column until it is finalized. )
  3. Attend two writing trainings if you haven’t been a columnist previously on our staff
  4. Columnists are encouraged but not required to come to our twice weekly Editorial Board meetings to become more integrated into our team. Meetings are held Monday and Wednesday evenings in the newsroom from 7pm - 8:30pm.

What makes a good columnist?

We are looking for a wide array of voices from a variety of schools and colleges, backgrounds, home states and home countries. We are looking for people who are passionate experts. This could look like a lot of things: maybe you are actively involved in a student group and want to write about an initiative your group is working on, maybe you have spent the semester doing research in a lab on campus and want to write about insights found through participating in this research, maybe you are passionate about certain political events and want to articulate nuances that you think students need to consider, or maybe you simply want to write about personal stories that happen to you and observations or discoveries you have from these experiences.

Good columns will include...

  1. An appropriate topic. While columnists are allowed to pick their own topics, columns most usually deal with issues pertinent to the University of Michigan, college students in general, the Ann Arbor community or the state of Michigan. Topics that reach as far as national or world issues are not discouraged from being addressed, but it is crucial the writer keeps in mind that this is a newspaper for students. It’s okay to start from news stories (remember to check not just the Daily, but,, Michigan Radio, The Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press or national outlets as well) but always ask yourself why does a University of Michigan student care?
  2. A unique argument. You must tell the reader something they’ve never heard before. This is especially true if you pick a topic that’s already been extensively covered. Be fresh, new and interesting. To allow for more creative and engaging stories in the past, we’ve had columnists go out to investigate specific topics (conducting interviews, taking photos, etc.) to create an in-depth report that incorporates their own opinions. Consider this rule of thumb: Tell readers a) why this matters to you, and b) why this should matter to them.
  3. Authority to address the issue. You should be a reasonably credible source on your topic, whether you’re taking a class on it, it is something you’ve had previous experience with or it’s simply a newfound interest you are eager to research and learn a ton about.
  4. Strong writing. Good grammar, word choice, spelling and sentence structure are of course important, but it’s also critical for columns to follow a coherent organization. Sentences should neatly flow from one to another and paragraphs should transition logically. Check your facts, provide statistics and cite examples or personal experiences. All columnists are expected to proofread their columns before submitting.

If you can work these elements into an engaging piece of opinion writing, please consider the following two-part application.

The application is due Thursday, December 31st at midnight and should be emailed to the 2016 Editorial Page Editors: Claire Bryan ( and Regan Detwiler (

Part 1: A cover letter.

Tell us about your background, your major, any organizations you are a part of, the work you do for these organizations and why you love doing that work. Please also pitch your column’s theme and guiding message to us. Include why you’d like to write about this topic and why it should be you who is writing on this topic. Lastly, consider what types of people you would want to be interviewing and what types of places you would look for your research.

Part 2: A sample column.

Please provide a brand-new, never-published column. This sample column should follow all of the previously outlined guidelines for columns. Sample columns will be used as the writer’s first column unless discussed with the Editorial Page Editors.

*Please note: In accepting the job as a Michigan Daily Columnist, you will be required to review, and will become bound by, all Michigan Daily bylaws. The bylaws enforce the Michigan Daily’s ethical standards (i.e. preventing the publishing of libelous, malicious or discriminatory content). All columns are subject to review before publication on those standards by the Editorial Page Editors, the Managing Editor and/or the Editor-in-Chief. If content does not align with the standards of the bylaws, per that review, the Daily reserves the right to not publish that content. That being said, the writer’s voice is the top priority on the Opinion section and we will always work with the writer to have content published rather than not.

Thank you for applying to be a columnist for The Michigan Daily.
We look forward to hearing all you have to say!