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how to be a political writer


how to be a political writer


  • Get Paid to Write: 15 Political Writing Markets for Freelancers

1.  The American Conservative

2. the atlantic, 3. new statesman, 4., 5. the national review, 8. washington monthly, 10. vox first person, 11. liberal america, 12. polizette, 13. new york observer, 14. the progressive, 15. the nation, get paid to write about politics.

Get Paid to Write About Politics.

Maybe you’re one of those news junkies who follows government trends, key political players, or the issues and policies that have an impact on everyday people.

Find a fresh angle, and you can get paid to write about it.

As a newbie freelancer, I was able to get paid to write a political piece for a national magazine. More about that later.

Maybe you want to get paid to write about your political views, opinions, and life experiences impacted by politics and government. There’s a market for that.

And if you’re interested in finding freelance writing jobs and digging deep into government and politics as an investigative journalist, feature writer, or contributing freelancer, you can find political markets to get paid to write those types of articles, too.

Check out this list of political writing markets, study the guidelines, start pitching, and get paid to write:

Interested in political writing from a conservative perspective? You’ll need solid journalism skills to report and write about current events, trends and issues for The American Conservative, a magazine published by the American Ideas Institute.

“We believe in constitutional government, fiscal prudence, sound monetary policy, clearly delineated borders, protection of civil liberties, authentically free markets, and restraint in foreign policy mixed with diplomatic acuity,” says editor Robert Merry .

Rate s: Pays $150 and up depending on assignment.

If you want to write for The Atlantic, a magazine that covers news and analysis on politics, business, culture, technology, national, international and political life, read this by former Atlantic staffer Garance Franke-Ruta: “ How (not) to pitch: A guide for freelance writers .”

FYI – The Atlantic is also open to working with new freelancers. It’s where I landed my first magazine assignment as a newbie  for a piece about the career trajectory of Donald Trump that landed him in the White House.

Want to write for The Atlantic? Study the magazine and pitch an idea with a query first .

Rates: Pays $150 to $1,600 depending on assignment.

This progressive-thinking political magazine, based in the United Kingdom, has been covering politics and issues from around the world for more than 100 years.

“Timely, well-written contributions that bring a new angle to topics within the  New Statesman ‘s remit,” says editor Jason Cowley. “Make sure you’re familiar with the website and what we cover before pitching – following us  on Twitter  is a good way of doing this.”

Have a story idea for The New Statesman? Pitch editors Julia Rampen or George Eaton .

Rates : Pays $150.00 to $300.00 per article. was born from the slow-and-steady demise of traditional print newspapers, and covers politics and other topics with investigative reporting, commentary, criticism, and provocative personal essays. Pitch story ideas to Managing Editor Erin Keane . Note: If you can, be sure to mention you can provide video clips.

Rates: Pays $150 and up, depending on assignment.

You’ll only find conservative-focused articles in this 60-year-old magazine that features news and commentary pieces on political, social, and cultural affairs.

Want to write for The National Review? Pitch Senior Editor Richard Brookhiser , but current issues and read The Magazine’s Credenda first.

Got a knack for writing witty and opinionated analysis pieces about political issues? That’s the Slate’s niche in the world of online journalism.

“We are a general-interest publication offering analysis and commentary about politics, news, business, technology, and culture,” says Editor-in-Chief Julia Turner.

Pitch story ideas to Political Editor Reid Pillifant .

Rates: Pays $0.23 per word.  

Here’s an interesting way to differentiate yourself as a news and literary magazine…no advertising. That’s the Sun’s approach to focus on great writing.

This magazine has been around for 40 years, and is looking for essays, interviews, and story ideas about political and cultural issues.

“We’ve been described in many ways,” says Editor and Publish Sy Safransky. “Celebratory, fierce, unflinching, thoughtful, truthful, dark, darkly funny, tender.”

And it shows in recent articles on wealth and poverty, Donald Trump as a taboo topic at work, inequalities in education, and much more.

Rates: Pays $300 to $2,000 per assignment.

Class warfare, the latest insights on the Nunes memo and the FBI, party battles over climate change, and rural America in the 21 st century. Those are the kinds of reported stories you’ll find in the Washington Monthly.

And if you have an idea for an investigative piece, opinion-based feature, or even book reviews of political titles, pitch Editor Gilad Edelman .

Rates: Pays $0.10/word

Do you know where politics and Jewish life intersect? Then pitch a story idea to Tablet, a daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture.

Recent freelance political pieces published in Tablet include: “ Three theories of the rise of Trump ,” “ George Loinger’s simple game of catch ,” “ Mob rule ,” among others.

Query news and politics editor Matthew Fishbane , and include a brief summary of your story idea, bio, and writing experience.

Rates : Pays $150 and up depending on assignment.

Got a political view and personal experience you’d like to share and get paid to write? Vox First person wants to hear from you. This news-opinion-style site welcomes opinion-focused articles, essays, and points of view that help explain politics and current events from a first-person perspective.

Rates : Pays $150 and up.

When Texas-born Tiffany Willis Clark spent time working with disadvantaged and oppressed populations, the elderly, people living in poverty, at-risk youth, and the unemployed, it changed the way she sees the world. And it’s one reason why she founded Liberal America.

This site covers political and social issues liberals care about. And if you have an idea for a story, send your pitch to [email protected] .

Rates: Pays $50 and up.

PoliZette is a division of LifeZette, and features political articles that offer commentary, insight, and explanation of the sometimes crazy world of politics. Pitch story ideas to Senior Editor Mark Tapscott . But do your homework, he’s a guy who’s been on the front lines of political journalism for more than 30 years.

Rates:  Pays $100 to $200 per assignment.

Like writing about the latest news from the White House? Or have an inside scoop, opinion, or point of view about New York politics? If you can write for a “sophisticated readership of metropolitan professionals,” pitch an idea to Contributors Editor Kelsey Smith .

Rates: Pays $100 per assignment.

If you want to write about the people, events, and issues shaping social and economic justice, civil liberties, human rights, the environment, and democracy, pitch a story idea to Managing Editor Bill Lueders at The Progressive.

Rates:  $50 to $1,300 per assignment.

“We are a weekly journal of left/liberal opinion, covering national and international affairs as well as the arts publishing in both print and digitally,” says Editor and Publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel.

The Nation was founded on principles of investigative journalism and old-school reporting. Stories include analysis of breaking news, politics, social issues and the arts. Check The Masthead to pitch the appropriate editor.

Rates: $225 and up per assignment.

If political writing is your thing, or you want to break into this niche, and get paid to write, you can. Here’s how:

  • Find a market (these are just a few of many political markets where you can get paid to write).
  • Study the guidelines.
  • Read articles on the publication’s website/and or back issues.
  • Come up with a fresh angle or story idea.
  • Write a query and pitch your idea.

And in case you haven’t noticed, there’s ample story ideas out there to get paid to write about politics.

What political markets have you written for?  Let’s discuss on Facebook and LinkedIn .

Douglas Fitzpatrick  is a freelance writer based in Dallas, Texas.

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Op-Ed Writing: 10 Markets That Pay Freelancers for Views & Opinions

Op-Ed Writing: 10 Markets That Pay Freelancers for Views & Opinions

Ever have an idea for an op-ed?

If your mind jumps to the old-school newspaper section with editorials, opinion pieces, and letters to the editor, you’re probably thinking it’s a waste of time.

But writing op-ed pieces is still a thing. I’ve done it. And if you know where to look, the right markets pay well.

Getting paid $300 to $1,500 for opinion pieces, essays, and editorials is still happening.

Let the ideas begin to percolate…

Maybe you’ve learned a few lessons at the School of Hard Knocks. Maybe you’ve got some insight, views, expertise, or opinions about issues in your niche. Or maybe some comment on social media is so hot, you’ve got to take a stand.

Chances are pretty good you’ve got an opinion piece in you worth writing. Check out these 10 op-ed writing markets to share your point of view and get paid for it.

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Political Writing: The Power of Words in Politics

Jun 16, 2020

Political Writing

Words are powerful. They can inspire, motivate, and unite people. Political writing can be a tool for rallying support for a cause or rallying opposition against a policy. And it can be used to build relationships with other countries or strengthen alliances with allies. Whatever your political goal may be, strong writing skills are essential to achieving it. So if you’re interested in entering the world of politics, learn how to write well. It will make all the difference.

Politics is all about words. The right words can inspire people to change the world, ruining a career. In this blog post, we’ll look at some of the most powerful political speeches throughout history and explore the power of words in politics. Stay tuned – it’s going to be a fascinating ride!

What is Political Writing?

Political writing is writing that is related to politics. This includes pieces written by or on political groups, candidates, parties, and government agencies.

Political writing is the art of writing in support of a political cause.

Political writing is a form of nonfiction. It’s one of the most common uses for language today because we often use it to express our opinions about political matters.

Political writing is nonfiction that presents an opinion or interpretation of political issues. It can be in speeches, position papers, or editorials.

Political writing is written communication that deals with government, politics, and political science.

Political writing is the act of sharing or discussing events and situations of a political nature.

Political writing is a genre of the essay, article, or other work that deals with political matters.

What is political writing, and why is it important?

Political writing is a type of writing that makes people think about their opinions, actions, and the world. It’s essential to keep reading it because it helps us get involved in our communities.

Political writing is the use of language to convince others to create change. It’s important because it allows people to express their opinions and ideas, affecting how politicians make decisions that affect everyone.

Political writing uses written language to present a view, promote a plan, or persuade readers.

Political writing is a genre of writing that analyzes and responds to politics. This type of writing is essential because it allows people to voice their opinions about politics and government, which helps create better policies for our country.

Political writing is the art of convincing people to support your point of view through rhetoric and logic.

One type of political writing his speeches. They’re essential because they can influence and educate many people on controversial topics.

Political writing is a way to express one’s opinion on issues that impact the world. It can be in different forms, such as novels, poetry, or news articles.

The history of political writing

In the 17th century, many political pamphlets were written. Many of these pamphlets contained strong opinions and biased information, but most importantly, they helped shape policy in England during this period.

Although the first political writings appeared in ancient times, it wasn’t until much later that people started writing about politics.

Politics have influenced society for thousands of years. Throughout history, politicians have defined the direction of countries and shaped people’s lives.

Types of political writing

  • Political essays are generally written formally to persuade readers to adopt an author’s point of view.
  • A political speech aims to persuade people and rally support for a person or party.
  • A manifesto is an extended essay that lays out one’s beliefs and goals in great detail.
  • Opinion writing is a form of political writing that expresses an opinion about a topic.
  • Essays are usually based on personal experiences and may be autobiographical, but they can also be analytical essays about issues or topics.
  • News reports differ from op-eds because they focus more on factual information than opinions.
  • Editorial: The author’s opinion on a topic, often supported with facts and statistics
  • Letter to the editor: A letter from an individual reader responding to something in the newspaper
  • Magazine article: A long-form article that is usually published in a magazine
  • Opinion Pieces: these are pieces that come from the writer’s personal opinion and can be either positive or negative
  • Analysis: This type of writing analyzes a topic in-depth, usually with statistics and data to back up its points
  • News Stories: news stories tell readers about current events happening around the world; they may include interviews with experts on the issue or people who have been affected by it
  • Op-Eds: op-eds are articles written by someone outside of an organization, such as a politician, activist, union leader, etc., meant for publication in a newspaper or magazine
  • Argumentation
  • Campaigning/Polemicizing
  • Persuasive writing
  • Informative writing
  • Narrative writing

How to write a persuasive political speech

A persuasive political speech is a type of writing that aims to convince the audience that your view on an issue is more valid than others. To do this, you must start by acknowledging different opinions and pointing out why they are wrong.

The initial step in writing a persuasive speech is to establish your credibility. For example, please talk about your accomplishments for the party or how many years you’ve been involved.

A persuasive political speech should be well-prepared, clear, and straightforward, logically structured. It should focus on the main points without unnecessary details.

A persuasive speech is a type of speech designed to convince the audience. This can be done through logical reasoning, testimonies, facts, figures, or stories.

It would help to tell the audience what you stand for and why and how you will fulfill your promises. It will help if you convince them they want to change their lives or won’t vote for you.

A good speech should be like a story with a beginning, middle, and end. It should present the main idea in the opening sentence or paragraph and develop it throughout the speech. A persuasive political speech will use facts and statistics to support its views.

A political speech is a great way to persuade your audience and win votes. If you’d like to learn some things you can do before writing your address, that will help with the process.

How to write an op-ed piece

Op-ed pieces help express your opinion on a topic.

An op-ed piece is an opinionated article in which the author expresses their views on a topic recently discussed in the news.

An op-ed piece is a short article published in newspapers or other media. It does not necessarily reflect the newspaper’s opinion but rather that of an individual writer.

An op-ed piece is an article that expresses a writer’s opinion on current affairs. This writing style is frequently used in newspapers, magazines, and blogs.

Best Practices for Political Writing

  • Be clear about your position on the issue
  • Provide evidence to support your point of view
  • Ensure you have a good thesis statement and the main idea of your essay or article.
  • Use strong verbs and nouns to make sentences more powerful
  • Avoid using too many adjectives or adverbs; instead, use descriptive words that show what something looks like, smells like, tastes like, feels like, etc
  • Keep it short- this means no more than five paragraphs at most (and each section should be less than three sentences)
  • Use clear, concise language
  • Avoid jargon and acronyms that are not universally-known
  • Provide evidence for your claims
  • Write in a way that is easy to understand but still has a depth of knowledge
  • allow readers to engage with you through comments or social media shares
  • Avoid using slang or idioms
  • Keep sentences short and simple
  • Use active voice, not passive voice
  • Be concise- get to the point quickly without rambling about irrelevant information.
  • Make sure you know your audience before writing anything political
  • Make sure your writing is engaging and accessible to read
  • Keep it brief, but don’t be too concise- make the reader feel like they’re getting something out of reading your article
  • Use a variety of sentences with varying lengths to keep readers interested in what you have to say
  • Be careful not to be preachy or biased when discussing political topics.
  • Use simple language- avoid jargon and acronyms.
  • Avoid hyperbole, exaggeration, and generalizations.
  • Create an apparent argument with evidence to support your claims
  • Be concise- don’t ramble or go off on tangents
  • Stick to one point at a time- present new ideas in separate paragraphs
  • Use persuasive language to connect with the reader, but avoid over-the-top rhetoric or exaggerated claims.
  • Provide specific evidence for your assertions
  • Avoid using unnecessary jargon and acronyms
  • Read the publication’s guidelines
  • Write objectively, not emotionally
  • Use active voice and strong verbs to convey power and action
  • Keep your sentences short and simple for easy readability
  • Include sources in your writing when possible
  • Use short, punchy sentences
  • Avoid using jargon or acronyms without explaining what they mean
  • Keep your writing simple and easy to read
  • Make sure you are always fair in your analysis of the issue at hand

Words are an effective tool in politics. When these words are chosen wisely, they can create the perfect storm that sweeps away opposition and makes new citizenship norms. Contact us today if you’re looking for someone with deep experience in crafting compelling political arguments or want to learn more about how language shapes our society. We have years of expertise working with politicians on both sides of the aisle and across different countries worldwide!

One way to get in touch is by filling out our online form on this site or give us a call at +91 9848321284. Let’s work together today!

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How to Be a Political-Opinion Journalist

First, don't attack weak arguments.

In response to David Brooks's column on how to write about politics, Jonathan Chait offers some ideas of his own. It probably won't surprise you that I like Chait's a little better. Here's a pretty good rule:

Don't debate straw men. If you're arguing against an idea, you need to accurately describe the people who hold them. If at all possible, link to them and quote their argument. This is a discipline that forces opinion writers to prove that they're debating an idea somebody actually holds. And quoting the subject forces them to show that somebody influential holds it -- if the best example of the opposing view is a random blog comment, then you're exposing the fact that you're arguing against an idea nobody of any stature shares. This ought to be an easy and universal guideline, but in reality, it's mostly flouted.

What You Need to Know About Becoming a Political Science Major

Political science majors understand, promote and debate political arguments, and become strong writers, speakers and critical thinkers.

Becoming a Political Science Major

Caucasian teenagers talking to politicians in capitol building

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A political science major examines the nature of power and governments while building skills in analysis, research and more. Students who keep up with current events and have a penchant for debate might be interested in this major. With a degree in political science, you’ll be well-equipped to understand the forces that guide political processes.

What Is a Political Science and Government Major?

A political science major is a social science degree path that focuses on government in theory and practice. Majors will explore topics related to political theory, international relations, comparative politics and more. By the time they complete their degrees, students should understand political issues and theories and have the skills to confidently approach research questions.

Options after graduation include doctorate programs in the field and graduate or professional study in law, international relations, medicine and more. Students in a political science major may also be able to receive class credit for hands-on internships in campaign offices, law firms and nongovernmental organizations.

Political science major vs. public policy major: What’s the difference?

Political science majors and public policy majors are closely related, as public policy majors must understand political science principles and political science majors learn how governments handle policy problems. Some schools even combine the two topics into one degree. The difference between the undergraduate study of political science and public policy is that political science is the study of governments, political systems and public policies. Public policy, on the other hand, focuses on the formulation, application and evaluation of public policy.

Common Coursework Political Science and Government Majors Can Expect

Degree programs in political science and government may go by different names and requirements can vary across schools. Whether students earn a degree in political science, government, government and legal studies, or in a department with some other title, they should expect to explore topics in more than one part of the field.

Programs often organize classes into subfields like political theory, research methods and American politics. Majors usually must enroll in some introductory courses, and students at certain schools will select a subfield to be their area of focus. Upper-level classes explore subjects like war, international law and energy policy. Some programs also require or encourage students to enroll in a statistics course. Political science departments may offer Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degree options, with the latter likely involving more quantitative coursework.

How to Know if This Major Is the Right Fit for You

If you want to build strong tools to understand, promote and debate political arguments, a political science major could be a good fit for you. In a government program, you will have opportunities to improve as a writer, speaker and critical thinker. You will also be able to explore a range of topics relevant to domestic and international politics, such as American public opinion, nuclear security and the European Union.

If you’re more interested in the ideas that underlie the political world, you might find your place studying political theory. If you’re interested in law school , public policy or another path, political science could be the right choice for you.

Pick the Perfect Major

Discover the perfect major for you based on your innate wiring. The Innate Assessment sets you up for success by pairing you with majors, colleges and careers that fit your unique skills and abilities.

how to be a political writer

What Can I Do With a Political Science Major?

Because the tools you can master in this major are fairly transferable, a degree in political science can open careers in all sorts of fields. Strong critical thinking and communication skills could lead you to jobs in journalism, business, education and more. The analytical and research skills that students take from this social science major lend well to roles like research analyst and historian. You can also find opportunities in politics by working as an analyst or on a political campaign, for example. A political science major can also prepare students to use public speaking, critical thinking and writing skills as legislative assistants, social media managers, fundraising managers and program coordinators.

Related roles like economist, political scientist, and urban and regional planner typically require a master’s degree in political science or a similar field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

If you enjoy your undergraduate research, you might enroll in a doctorate program in political science and begin a career in academia, or you could also consider applying to law school. With a political science degree, you can seek positions in nonprofits, government and the private sector.

Looking at real world examples, most political science majors from Northwestern University work post-grad in government, law and nonprofits (34%), according to Northwestern University’s Career Advancement Post-Undergraduate Surveys from 2019 to 2022. Other popular careers were consulting (18%), communications, marketing and media (18%), followed by business and financial services (16%) and technology (14%).

Graduates can network by becoming members of professional organizations like the American Political Science Association , which brings together students, practitioners, scholars and professors to develop their skills, conduct research, improve teaching and share political science ideas with the public. In addition, the International Political Science Association is a membership organization that connects the international political science community through research committees and conferences, and offers academic services, publication opportunities, access to an online member directory and more.

Data is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics .

What Political Science Majors Say

"To be a political science major take a lot of patience. You never know what thoughts or opinions you’ll form along the way. I’d say it is a pretty easy major if you show passion towards some issue or are eager to learn more about new things within United states government or policy. In today’s world, there’s more interest in politics and to study political science makes it much easier to understand what’s going on in the world. To any perspective college students considering political science as a major, I’d say do it even if it’s a minor because almost everything you study has a political lens to look through even in the health care world, business, or the arts." – Maria Fulhorst , a senior at Xavier University, class of ‘23, a political science major and vice president of the political science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha.

“What I find most captivating about pursuing a degree in political science is its inherent interdisciplinarity. Political science weaves together elements of history, politics, economics, and philosophy, providing a distinctive insight into society and the world. My best piece of advice to prospective political science students- be a sponge. Embrace available opportunities, from engaging guest speakers to unconventional courses and enriching internships. College is a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment in preparation for our lives and there's no major quite as adept as political science in facilitating this journey." – Cooper Blee , a junior at Xavier University, class of ‘25, a political science major and member of the political science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha.

"Political Science is not for the faint at heart. We do not strictly read papers all day nor do we scream political parties at the top of the hill. Rather each individual who takes on the course of Political Science is very poised, calculated, critical, analytical, & at times we analyze the most cynical people that one can imagine … The number one word of advice I can offer to you would be to ask yourself the daunting question of why political science. In our generation, there is a need for people with a humanities background, as it will teach you how to think critically, time management, the intellect of emotion, teamwork, independent thinking, viewing & respecting ideas from the perspective of another, & the list goes on." – Precious Onyiyechi, a senior at North Carolina State University, class of ‘24, a political science major and a biological sciences major with a concentration in integrative physiology and neurobiology.

Schools Offering a Political Science Major

Check out some schools below that offer political science majors and find the full list of schools here that you can filter and sort.

2024 Best Colleges

how to be a political writer

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Politically Engage Yourself through Writing

The political writing that aspiring freelance writers have produced should be polished and put into a portfolio, or presented on a well-designed website and then sent to editors at papers or magazines. This will establish a connection to the larger publication for the writers, so there is a better chance they will be hired to write a few pieces here and there or even a politics column in the future. The better the political writing and the more often you send it to these editors, the better a chance you have of getting a paid writing gig.

Of course, it helps your credibility even more if you have some actual political experience under your belt. Consider working with a politician for a year or so to learn how politics actually works. Work on a larger political campaign so you can see what politicians do to get votes. The more experience you have in the actual world of professional politics, the more you will be able to write about on the political front, and the more desirable your opinion on politics will be to political publications, editors and blogs.

You should also read as much political writing as possible. This means reading publications and books written about the American political system over the past two plus centuries. It also means reading more current political coverage, like the fine political coverage in publications like Harpers or The Atlantic magazines, The Economist or The New Yorker . The better versed you become at the style and pacing of professional political journalism, the more you will be able to emulate such qualities in your own work.

E.K.   is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.

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What Is Political Writing For?

Morsels of rage and misery don’t have much effect, but they do feed an online writing economy

N ot long ago, the prevailing opinion among political writers was that Joe Biden would probably never be president. Measured against the other candidates in the crowded 2020 Democratic primary field, it was said, he was too old, too personally and politically compromised, and too removed from the debates of the moment to mount anything more than a vanity campaign. Criticisms from Biden’s ideological opponents on the left and on the right could have been expected—but doubts about his viability as a candidate ran deep even among his natural allies in the centrist press.

The Atlantic ran anxious pieces about his debate performances and criminal justice record. Politico ’s Charlie Mahtesian argued that Biden would struggle to gain traction in a newly “unsentimental and unforgiving” Democratic Party. “Biden’s competition wouldn’t be a lone independent socialist,” he warned. “The Democratic field is expected to be historically large and is likely to feature more than a few candidates with nearly pristine records on the issues that animate the party’s foot soldiers.” And at the New York Times , columnist Frank Bruni all but begged Biden to stay out of the race. “His party can’t get enough of the word ‘progressive,’ but he’s regressive, symbolizing a step back to an administration past,” he wrote. “Don’t get me wrong: That’s infinitely preferable to the indecent present. But it’s a questionable campaign slogan.”

That consensus overestimated the extent to which the ideological and cultural arguments driving online conversation would matter to a majority of voters. While those discussions were influential among a highly engaged portion of the Democratic electorate, it should have been obvious to more analysts that a much larger share of voters would respond to the shock of Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump by opting for the most traditional and sociopolitically uninteresting candidate available.

The fact that I, recently a Web-first staff writer at The New Yorker and the New Republic , happened to gauge the priorities of the offline electorate correctly hasn’t been of much comfort to me in the time since. As with Trump’s victory in 2016, the outcome of the 2020 Democratic primary and Biden’s ascent to the presidency raise deep, existential questions about who and what political punditry—and online political writing in particular—is supposed to be for.

Thirty years ago, the roster of newspapers and magazines offering political commentary to truly national audiences was relatively small. There were a few major papers with national followings, like the Times , USA Today , the Wall Street Journal , and the Post ; the large general-interest publications like Time , Newsweek , US News & World Report , The Atlantic , and The New Yorker ; and a handful of ideological publications like the New Republic , The Nation , and National Review . Today, though, a much broader array of political publications, from the far left to the far right, collectively draw millions of readers across America every day.

As much as the reach of political writing as a medium has expanded, however, dedicated readers of online outlets do not make up a dominant share of the public. According to the Pew Research Center, 45 percent of Americans still get most of their political news from television, while just 25 percent get most of their news from online news sites—a category that includes the highly trafficked websites of the major TV networks. (Only 3 percent of Americans report that they get most of their political news in print.) As for the 18 percent of Americans who report getting most of their political news from social media, that can’t be fully accounted for by the online press—our pieces share space in news feeds with television content, viral misinformation, and armchair punditry from ordinary people who have come to believe, rightly, that they can bloviate about campaigns and political happenings about as well as most pundits.

W e political writers are fond of telling ourselves that our readers matter more than most—they often include policymakers, base voters, and political activists uniquely placed to effect political change. But how reliably has that really made a difference? Day in and day out, readers from the center to the left are offered the same arguments about the state of the Republican Party and what Democrats ought to be doing, without much discernible impact. Many journalists in my particular corner of the political landscape have persistently high hopes for what progressive writing can do, and those hopes are grounded in some real accomplishments. It’s probably fair to assume that bold and strident left-wing punditry has intertwined with other factors—including on-the-ground work by activists and organizers and the socioeconomic realities facing key Democratic constituencies—to bring about some of the policy and electoral victories progressives have seen in recent years on issues such as criminal justice reform and drug policy, particularly at the state and local levels.

But at the federal level, where most of our energy and attention is spent, national political commentators have succeeded mostly in encouraging an impressive share of Democratic political elites, activists, and policy professionals to engage with important policy ideas— Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, the addition of new states, the expansion of the Supreme Court, and so on—that are unlikely to pass Congress. And the successes progressives have seen so far during the Biden administration—including the size and scope of the recovery and infrastructure packages, a new commitment to aggressive antitrust enforcement, and other policy pushes—can probably be credited less to posts and tweets than to the work of progressive policy researchers, academics, and advocacy groups, which policymakers can access directly, without journalists and their explainers as intermediaries.

It’s not clear, either, how much independent influence writers even have on the typical reader. Most people who read Jacobin or Vox or The Atlantic or The Federalist do so because they already share the ideologies and political sensibilities of those publications, to the point that they might agree with their articles before they’ve even read them. Anxiety about what that dynamic might be doing to our body politic has itself built up a prodigious subgenre of political writing. It’s true that the health of a democracy depends upon the state of its journalism. But the relationship also works the other way: the state of journalism depends upon the health of democracy, and not just in the sense that journalists depend on press freedom. Democracy gives journalism purpose; the journalist brings information and arguments to the public, and the informed public acts, or makes its preferences known to those in a position to act. But if our sclerotic political institutions are less responsive to broad public opinion than to the imperatives of major corporations and the wealthy—and if, as the political-science and social-psychology literature tells us, public opinion isn’t reliably responsive to argument and new information to begin with—what are the would-be shapers of public opinion to do? Even the act of making an argument becomes problematic. In implying, falsely, that the average reader’s opinion necessarily matters in the grand scheme of things, the journalist’s fundamental obligation to the truth is violated.

O f course, there was never a time when the world could be expected to move at the stroke of a hack’s pen. But we’re living in a moment at which the basic premises justifying conventional engagement with national politics no longer seem plausible, and our structural stasis has been belied by the unprecedented volume and intensity of our punditry. Certainly, the internet has had some positive effects on the industry and helped diversify it with more writers from under-represented backgrounds. But that only makes it all the more surprising that online conversations feel as homogeneous and repetitive as they do. The tonal and stylistic differences between writers and publications are eroding; the dynamics of the internet have driven competing outlets to make similar judgments about what’s worth writing about and how. The morsels of rage and misery we offer might not have much political effect, but they do feed an online writing economy that rewards speed, quantity, and deference to algorithms designed for the profit of three or four tech companies—an economy that offers few incentives to generate writing that lingers in the mind longer than half a day or half an hour. Exploratory writing—ruminative, tentative—is simply a riskier bet than tidy, punchy, reductive, and nut-graph-ready arguments destined to be skimmed by a predictable subset of a subset of the public before disappearing into the Web’s ever-decaying memory. The whole system is one of the bleakest forms of entertainment imaginable.

But we can do better. Writers ought to be given the time, space, and opportunity to say not the first, second, or even third thing to come to mind, but maybe the fourth—a chance to write at an angle or with prose that challenges or surprises. If persuasive writing has any real independent power at all, we’ll likely find it in larger arguments with larger stakes: work from writers who break the rhythms of our most intractable debates by slowing down to gather context from historical material, scholarship, and, yes, reporting.

We should be encouraged by the work of online writers already traveling in this lane—including The Atlantic ’s Adam Serwer and the New York Times ’ Jamelle Bouie, to name just two—as well as by a key revelation of the newsletter wave: readers are willing to pay for writing that breaks the rules that obtain across most of online publishing. And while some of these readers subsidize rambling curmudgeons fixated on the same material as the rest of the Web, many others subscribe to writers who use their newsletters to deliver commentary with real style and personality, and to pursue interests that most outlets don’t consider worthy of sustained investment. That’s their loss. Ultimately, good writers will gravitate toward the platforms where they can do the work they find most meaningful. As it stands, most of the internet doesn’t have much to offer them.

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Many politicians don't write their own speeches, preferring to delegate the task to a dedicated speech writer. Big politicians might even have teams of them. Speech writing in politics is a difficult art, and it's not for everyone. A good speech has to optimistically appeal to all the right constituencies, avoid unintended controversy, yet be provocative and eloquent enough to make the news, all while catering to a middle school reading level. Since the job is also very competitive, it isn't enough simply to be good at it. You also need to make friends and work your way in.

Political Speech Writer Jobs: Education

Zippia reports that these days, a bachelor's degree is all but mandatory to get into the world of speech writing. Having a degree suggests that you're serious, disciplined and capable of following through on a commitment. The type of degree doesn't really matter, though some politicians and their staffs prefer a related degree, like political science or English. Don't quit college while you're there, either. Your speech-writing job will eventually end, but the degree will stay with you for a lifetime.

Speech Writers and Political Involvement

Political speech writing is a niche industry. According to Indeed , in order to make it as a speech writer, you have to get politically involved. This means doing a whole lot of volunteering at first. Register with your local political party chapter and help out. Join political campaigns and volunteer with them too. Assist with elections. Get involved in the later stages of elections, such as caucuses and conventions. Overall, aim to attach yourself to a specific politician in hopes of eventually getting a paid staff job.

Speech Writers and Social Involvement

A complement to volunteering at political activities is to join a political nonprofit or activist organization that works on issues you care about. These groups have frequent contact with the politicians who represent them as well as with ideologically friendly politicians, which can provide a means for you to work with those politicians' staffs. Many people eventually parlay that personal familiarity into a paid political job.

Political Speech Writers and Audience

Politicians are much likelier to hire a writer with an extensive body of political writing publicly available to scrutinize, such as on a blog or website. Long before you try to get a political speech-writing job, hone your writing and work on building an audience. If you can show that your writing resonates with people, that makes you much likelier to eventually get a speech-writing job.

  • Indeed: How To Become a Political Speech Writer
  • Zippia: Speech Writer Education Requirements and Degrees

Josh Fredman is a freelance pen-for-hire and Web developer living in Seattle. He attended the University of Washington, studying engineering, and worked in logistics, health care and newspapers before deciding to go to work for himself.

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Political speechwriter career.

Political speechwriters prepare speeches for individuals in the political arena. They write for politicians in all branches of government, from the local and state level to the national level, including the president of the United States.

Political Speechwriter Career History

Political Speechwriter Career

Political Speechwriter Job Description

Political speechwriters write speeches for politicians, or they may assist the politician in composing a speech. A politician may need speechwriters for several reasons.

Many politicians are extremely busy and simply do not have the time to write the many speeches they need to give. Others may not feel comfortable writing their own speeches and require the presence of a speechwriter to help them make sense of what they want to say, and how they want to convey that message in a speech. Still other politicians may have excellent ideas for their speeches but need help communicating their vision to others.

A political speechwriter usually begins writing a speech once a topic is selected. They may have a topic assigned to them, or they may have to determine the topic of the speech themselves. To do this, a speechwriter may meet with the politician for whom they are writ­ing to receive his or her input. A speechwriter might also meet with representatives of the group to which the politician will be speaking, in order to discover their con­cerns and ensure that they are addressed in the speech. Next, the speechwriter will typically research the topic to be mentioned in the speech. To do this, they may uti­lize the resources of libraries, the Internet, or interview knowledgeable authorities in the field.

Once a speechwriter has gathered enough initial information, they begin to write the speech. Speechwriters must keep several things in mind while writing the speech. They need to ensure that the speech sounds like it was written by the politician who will ultimately be delivering it. They also need to keep in mind who will be hearing the speech, making sure that the speech is written so that it will be not only be understood by the intended audience, but that it will also be persuasive and effective in delivering the politician’s message. The speechwriter is also concerned with the mechanics of good speechwriting: allowing the speaker to engage the audience; providing clear, key points of the speech that can be easily recognized and digested by the audience; and ensuring that the audience identifies positively with the speaker by the end of the speech. They also have to be concerned with more mundane issues, such as making sure the speech does not exceed any time limits.

After the speechwriter finishes a rough draft of a speech, it will need to be approved by the politician deliv­ering it. Depending on the individual, he or she may or may not have had any interaction with the speech-writer until this stage. The politician, as well as his or her advisers, may revise the speech and send it back to the speechwriter for additional work, changing anything the politician or advisers are not satisfied or comfortable with. At this point, the speech may be shuffled back and forth several more times before it is finally approved.

After the speech is approved, the speechwriter may be responsible for producing the speech in its final form, which varies across different situations. The speech may need to be typed on easily readable note cards for a politi­cian speaking in a small auditorium, or the speech might need to be on a computer disk that can be input into a Teleprompter and displayed on a monitor for the politi­cian to read at a large rally or televised event.

Political Speechwriter Requirements

High school.

Since speechwriters need to be strong communicators, you should take as many English, speech, and communications courses as you can. Take courses in civics, history, and gov­ernment as well. If possible, join a speech or debate team to gain experience researching current events, analyzing data, and presenting information to others.

Postsecondary Training

You will need a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a field related to communications or political science, to become a political speechwriter. In addition to taking as many writing, speech, and communications classes as you can, you should pursue a well-rounded education, taking courses in history and politics.

Other Requirements

To be a successful speechwriter, you must stay up-to-date with current events and daily news. You must be flex­ible and able to integrate late-breaking news items into speeches you have written. You must also be able to work under pressure and meet deadlines. Because speechwriters need to interact with others, you should have good people skills.

Exploring Political Speechwriter Career

The best way to find out if speechwriting is something you wish to pursue is to write as often as possible. The more you write, the more you will improve your skills. You can practice writing speeches on your own, or you can partici­pate with your school’s speech or debate teams. Join local groups to learn the basics of effective public speaking so you can write more successful speeches. Reading famous speeches will also help you to understand the components of a successful speech. You can also join nonprofit or polit­ical organizations and offer to assist with public speaking events. This will give you the opportunity to make con­tacts, observe their operations, and you might even get an opportunity to assist a speechwriter with research.

Most political speechwriters work for politicians or political consulting groups. Many jobs are in Washing­ton, D.C., but there are opportunities available across the nation at the state and local government levels. One thing to keep in mind: It can be very difficult to write speeches supporting issues that go against you own views or mor­als. If you find employment with a politician who is closely aligned with your own opinions on issues that are important to you, your job will be easier and have the potential to be very rewarding.

Starting Out

One of the most important and effective ways of getting started as a political speechwriter is to make connections with people involved in politics. Volunteer for political campaigns and be an advocate of public policy issues that interest you. You can make good connections and gain valuable experience, work­ing or interning in the offices of your state capital. You might also try for an internship with one of your state’s members of Congress; contact their offices in Washington, D.C. for internship applications.

Some people pursue a career as a political speechwriter directly by working in the press offices of political candidates, starting out as assistants to speechwriters or press secretaries, advancing as they are able to demonstrate their ability and as opportunities arise. Others make the jump to speechwriting after having worked in the political arena as lawyers, lobbyists, or journalists.


Political speechwriters have many advancement options. Entry-level speechwriters may progress from doing mostly research, to writing some low-profile speeches, to writing more important speeches. They may also start by working with politicians at the local level and move on to work with more prestigious politicians at the state or national levels. Or they may find themselves promoted to speechwriting positions that have more supervisory and organizational responsibilities, such as managing a team of speechwriters.

Some political speechwriters advance to non-speech-writing positions within public administration; for exam­ple, they may become politicians or political consultants. They may also make the transition to a career in media, finding employment as a writer, journalist, or a career in public relations.

Salaries for speechwriters (including political speechwrit­ers) range from $53,000 to $68,000, with a median salary of $60,500. Entry-level speechwriters typically earn much less, sometimes starting around $20,000, and experienced speechwriters who work with high-profile politicians may make considerably more, earning salaries of $100,000 or more. Salaries also depend on geographical location and the level of government for which the speechwriter writes.

Work Environment

The work environment of political speechwriters can vary. At times, they may find themselves working in a relatively quiet office. They may also find themselves traveling on a crowded bus, train, or plane with the politician for whom they are writing, trying to craft a speech that needs to be finished by the time they arrive at their next destination. Work hours in this profession can be long and very irregu­lar. This is especially the case when a speechwriter is work­ing for a major political candidate on the campaign trail.

The work environment, whether it is on the road or in the office, has the potential to be frantic, noisy, and stressful. Politicians, political advisers, and speechwriters may have opposing views of what needs to be included in a speech, leading to heated exchanges. Speechwriters may have to make last-minute changes to a speech based on the day’s news events, all with the stress of deadlines looming. That said, not all speechwriters are employed in these high-pressured settings. Depending on their employer, a speechwriter may also work in a typical office environment, with fairly regular work hours.

Political Speechwriter Career Outlook

The U.S. Department of Labor does not provide employ­ment outlook information for the career of political speechwriter. It is safe to say, though, given the prevalence of politics and the importance of effective communication in the world today, that political speechwriters will have steady employment opportunities for the next decade.

For More Information:

  • American Association of Political Consultants
  • U.S. House of Representatives
  • United States Senate

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What's it really like being a government speechwriter?

By James Doughty

18 Feb 2017

Words don’t come easily to everyone, but speechwriters have a head start. Department for Work and Pensions wordsmith James Doughty shares some trade secrets

Speechwriting is a job quite unlike any other in the civil service. It’s a job of contradictions. You work alone and with everyone, you’re a specialist but also a generalist, you’re creative and constrained, you’re in the thick of it and standing back.

It’s a straight-talking job title. Yet, the lid on the speechwriter’s world is very rarely lifted. For speechwriters, like spies, anonymity is the name of the game. Spies work in the shadows. Speechwriters, more specifically, work in the shadow of their master. Their words are often in the spotlight, but they are not. 

Here are five insights into the world of a speechwriter and the speechwriting profession and how they add value to organisations and the wider civil service.

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What is speechwriting anyway? When many people think speechwriter, they think Sam Seaborn from The West Wing. The reality is somewhat different. Think less fast-paced corridor walking and talking, more painstaking research and midnight-oil-burning writing and rewriting.

In essence, a government speechwriter helps ministers communicate their vision, policies and objectives. In a world of short-burst social media, delivering a single speech from a lectern to a room full of real people is still the vehicle of choice to do this. A speech affords the space and time to develop his or her ideas, to take the audience on a journey, to tell a story – something you simply can’t do in 140 characters.

What goes into writing a speech? It often starts with an initial meeting with the minister to get a broad understanding of the main points they want to make. Then, it’s about having detailed conversations with policy teams – often multiple teams, analysts, political special advisers and press officers. During this process, the speechwriter is the conduit through which the ideas flow. They are the lightning rod, capturing every thought, every angle and every idea offered up. It is through the speechwriter that those ideas are then distilled, ordered, reordered, refined and woven into a narrative that makes sense and fits together. 

To do that, a speechwriter needs to be able to convey complex information simply and compellingly. They need to bring it all together into a coherent whole that, like a piece of music, ebbs and flows to hold interest and create contrasts – quiet bits and loud bits, long flowing passages and short staccato points, poetry and policy prose. After the extensive collaboration, this is the part where the speechwriter needs quiet solitude, which can be in short supply in a government department. I hear one department has plans for a “speech bubble” – a pod dedicated for speechwriters.

How do you keep hold of the pen and your nerve? For any one speech, there will have been an army of people involved in some way, from fact-checking to policy advice to analytical input, No. 10 steers and engaging those who have a powerful story to tell that will bring a speech alive. The speechwriter has to manage all of these different actors and ensure they are all happy and the speech beats with a single pulse and purpose.

 "A speechwriter can often find themselves at the centre of a kind of frenzied scrum"

In doing this, a speechwriter can often find themselves at the centre of a kind of frenzied scrum, particularly as the date of the speech approaches. This can, ironically, be one of the loneliest, most difficult and skilful parts of being a speechwriter – keeping a tight hold of the pen whilst surrounded by persuasive and often quite senior officials making their case for a line to be included – or more often than not – excluded.

It’s an interesting place to be and a test of nerve. I think it’s always important to remember whose speech it is: it’s the boss’s speech – the person who actually has to stand up and deliver it, whose mouth the words will come out of and the person whose name and reputation hangs on them. They are always the best speechwriter, we just play a supporting role. 

Because they are the boss, it can feel like a brutal and bruising profession at times. You need to be prepared for your carefully crafted lines to be crossed out or rewritten. That’s a healthy part of the process, if a little hair-depleting. A speechwriter colleague of mine had all but two words taken out of an initial draft of a speech. The two surviving words came at the end: “Thank you”. 

Some are based within the press office, some work from home, many work within the ministerial private office – from where you actually get much better access to ministers. Some are brought in because they have a history of working with a minister. Others have worked in the same department for successive ministers. Some are career civil servants who occupy the role for a period of time before moving on. Some have come from outside the civil service, mainly journalism. Whatever their background, many become career speechwriters, choosing to specialise in speechwriting as a vocation.

The numbers between departments also vary. Some have one, others have whole teams. Some double up the speechwriting role with being a private secretary to a minister. Others have experimented with relatively new approaches that merge functions together. For example, in the Department for Work and Pensions, alongside my speechwriting duties, I also head up a team of communication officers who provide dedicated support to ministers on briefing and communications.

Increasingly, speechwriters are diversifying and becoming generalist copywriters too, alongside writing speeches. They are turning their hand to writing and editing key departmental products that require strong, compelling prose, such as green papers or annual reports. In the past, I have known of departments commissioning external copywriters to do this. Departments are increasingly looking in-house to the existing talent of their speechwriters.

I like the sound of this. How do I become a speechwriter? No formal qualifications are required. A flair for writing, an interest in politics and public affairs are important, as is emotional intelligence and the ability to completely absorb the language and tone of another person. I have acted in the past, so being able to become someone else is a real advantage! Resilience and a thick skin are also needed to withstand the never-ending deadlines and pressure that are brought to bear on a speechwriter.

In terms of training, there are some excellent short courses out there for aspiring speechwriters. One of the best is a course run out of the Groucho Club in Soho by ex-Whitehall speechwriter Simon Lancaster, who now writes speeches for some of the world’s top CEOs. Simon has also written a book on writing speeches, Speechwriting: The Expert Guide. It is my bible. Whilst it is hard to teach someone how to write well (in my view it is something innate that comes from deep within), there are rules and recipes you can follow to ensure a speech is as good as it can be. I’d recommend it as a good read for anyone wanting to make their writing have more impact.

Speechwriting jobs are like gold dust, but it’s worth sounding out departments about any future positions in the offing and to register your interest. I also run a Whitehall Speechwriters’ Network and we are always happy to talk to budding speechwriters about opportunities. Many of the big companies now count a speechwriter as an essential part of their corporate entourage, so it’s worth looking into those too.

A final word Speechwriters add enormous value to an organisation. They write with a birds-eye view of the organisation and the wider horizon. They bring perspective, clarity and purpose, cutting through the complexity of policy and making it resonate with the outside world. 

Speechwriting is a job of contradictions, but that’s what makes it one of the most interesting, challenging and rewarding jobs in the civil service.

Capita regains management of Civil Service Pension Scheme

7 Tips for Writing About Politics (…When You’re Not a Political Writer)

This guest post on writing about politics is by Allen McDuffee governmentality .

While it’s an exciting time to write about politics, bloggers who ordinarily don’t write about politics can easily be intimidated by just the thought of it. Can I write authoritatively about the subject? Do I know all sides of the issue? What if my readers know more about the subject than I do? What if I don’t have all the facts?

There certainly are some risks involved but if you get it right, the potential rewards can range from sparking a heated debate to informing your readers about something important to testing the waters on going a little off the beaten path in the future.

These 7 tips can help avert disaster and build your confidence to write on politics.

1) Keep it simple and stay focused. It’s easy to get caught up in every detail about a particular issue, especially if this is one of your only political posts and you feel like you need to get it all out. Do your best to simplify the post as much as possible. If your readers are interested, you can always tease out some of the nuances in the comments section. Or, if there is real interest, you can write follow-up posts.

Think about your organizing principal. Are you writing about an organization, an issue, a law, a policy, a budget…Or has your mayor gone just too far and it’s time to let him or her have it? Whichever it is, the best thing you can do is focus on that primary subject. Focus on the exact reason the issue is important to your readers, who the key players are, and what the potential outcome is. Once you’re done, edit away anything that isn’t necessary—this is precisely the time good editing skills come in the handiest.

2) Keep writing in your voice. When you’re out of your comfort zone, it’s really easy to take on the voice of the subject matter rather than you’re own. Fight this the best you can—your readers notice! On more than one occasion when I’ve written about subjects that I knew would be important to my readers but weren’t exactly comfortable, I received reader emails asking if somebody else wrote the post or why I was dispassionate (unfortunately, politics writing has a higher propensity for getting boring). Work hard to make it your own and what your readers are used to seeing from you stylistically. Again, editing comes in very handy here and this might be the time to put yourself back into your post.

3) Make sure your audience knows why it’s relevant to them right away. This is good advice for any post, but more than ever your first line or two need to be carefully crafted. If readers aren’t used to seeing politics posts on your blog, you should help them understand why it’s there. And right away! Try tying it into a previous post you’ve written. Or express outrage that your readers would likely share. If they don’t get why it’s for them right away, you run the risk of them skipping it. Or worse: they’ll think you’re shifting focus and that it’s not “their” blog anymore.

4) Get an official statement. This sounds daunting, but you don’t always have to call a press officer to get one. Almost every governmental agency posts dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of press releases on their website each week. If you write about technology, look at the FCC website. If you’re writing a post about your city’s school system, look at the Department of Education website. You don’t have to agree with the statement, but using it lends credibility to your post and your readers will know exactly what you’re standing for (or against), officially.

5) Use video to launch your argument. Sometimes all the background knowledge required to write a good politics post can scare bloggers with otherwise good ideas away. Let seasoned reporters take that pressure off of you. News agencies like Reuters [] provide fairly well balanced reporting pieces in video that you can embed in your post. You can always add a line or two to cover a part of the story they left out. Now you have the reporting foundation to carry out your viewpoint.

6) Use a picture to spruce up your post. The great thing about writing on political issues is that you can use photographs from governmental websites on your blog because you’ve already paid for them in taxes. Not only does it dress up your post, but it also connects a name with a face. There are lots of times your readers will know who somebody is from television or the newspaper, but can’t remember their name–a picture would be a good reminder and adds another level of why the post is relevant to them.

7) Check to see if you’ve reached the outcome you wanted.

  • Was it your intention to be strictly informative? If so, did you give as much information as possible with links to resources?
  • Were you calling people to political action or some type of advocacy? If so, was it clear what position you were advocating and what you hope your readers will do?
  • Or are you just trying to open up a true debate on a topic your community faces? If so, what have you outlined the tough questions?

These tips might not make you Andrew Sullivan, but who wants to post every 90 seconds anyway?

Allen McDuffee writes on politics for places like The Nation, Mother Jones and New York Observer. Allen is currently working on a book project, No Child Left Unrecruited, and blogs at governmentality . He lives in Brooklyn.

how to be a political writer

It’s interesting how many times, especially during the elections, that many bloggers gave their piece and how it affected them.

Some I’m sure even polarized their audience and probably even lost a few.

The thing I wished though is that they helped bring everything back to the purpose of their website and not just ramble on their political view.

how to be a political writer

I would say that being biased is fine. Just don’t get in people’s faces. It is nearly impossible to not show some bias.

Thanks, Nate

how to be a political writer

Interesting topic, Allen. I’ve never wrote about politics on my blog, but there have been times where I’ve taken part in political debates on Internet forums. Like you mentioned, it’s easy to lose track, get too detailed, and lose your voice.

I think the biggest thing you can do is shut yourself to other views and opinions. When writing on anything controversial, you should always be open minded and willing to accept the point of view of others.

Great tips I will take them to heart.

Great tips! And great idea for an article, Political writing is tough. I don’t think I’ll ever do much of it, but if I do I’ll keep this article in mind,

Politics have found their way into my content over the past six months and I’ve found it important to write with passion, but still be factual. People hold very strong views right now, and can easily be turned off by yours. But its been my experience that if you keep it to the point and based on fact rather than a lunatic rant, even those on the other side of the fence will come back for more.

how to be a political writer

My blog is about How to get traffic to your site and I don’t have to write politics but reading the article was interesting. Thank You Darren. ————————————- Mohammad Afaq Free Website Traffic

how to be a political writer

I hate politics. MOST of them are hypocrites! Sorry to post this comment which is off the topic. Its just that… you know what I mean… Peace!

Tip #3 is excellent.

Great advice for any off-topic post, actually.

I’ve been playing with the idea of publishing a few religion-related posts on my blog. I haven’t yet b/c I don’t want to alienate anyone..but once I get around to it, this is one tip I’ll definitely keep in mind; I want readers to immediately understand why I think religion is relevant to my “main” topic, so the post doesn’t become off-putting in any way.

When political events began here in Madagascar, I was rebuilding my blogs But choosed to ‘massively’ use Social Medias in order to let people and the world know what’s happening in this country, to push Malagasy people to Tweet and those not twittering to simply read. So I transformed the Madagascar room on FriendFeed ( ) and created .

Because of these events (and other reasons), I didn’t open my new blogs and other websites as of today but I hope I’ll be able to do so soon. I’m an ‘old’ reader of ProBlogger, and am happy to see these great tips, looking forward for others with the same or similar topic.

Bookmarked on Delicious ;)

Thanks a lot, Best.

Yeah being simple and stay focused is always good for a blogger. Thanks i like to write about politics but honestly i didn’t like politics it

I write frequently about politics in a number of my blogs. I love writing about politics because it forces you to take a side, have a voice and care about something for once. Too many are apathetic about everything but making money, but politics effects everything. Just look at the economy!

how to be a political writer

I think something that can be drawn from this post is the importance of writing outside your so-called area of “expertise.” This cross-referencing of topics makes for original and interesting posts. For example, the ProBlogger post about saying fit while blogging covers health in a way that most blogs about blogging don’t.

how to be a political writer

I’d like to add that anecdotal evidence rarely makes a logical argument. I find that type of evidence in a political post manipulative. Sticking to the facts to make your case (and your point) will help your credibility.

Politics and me are miles apart. This is something not for me.. Hope other readers find it interesting.. I think this is a good post especially in this time of recession and a new president elected in the US. This make people want to mention about politics every now and then when something happens both good or bad. Good job on this post.

Cheers, Eddie Gear

well, im not into politics, kinda bored with it. lol, nice topic btw :)

how to be a political writer

Whether you write about politics or anything else, I do not believe that one should be afraid to express him or her self. Politics is two sided, sometimes three or more sides. Take one, but speak the truth, do not slander people, even politicians, unnecessarily.

how to be a political writer

Given the fact my site is a political commentary web publication, I write about politics often. The hardest part about it is getting over the fact that people are going to disagree with you. The second you throw opinion in there, people are going to disagree.

If you’re looking to write a political news site, there should be no opinion. It should be the very simple:

Who, what, where, when, why, and how? Answer those and that’s it. That’s the job of a reporter. However, if you like commentary, throw your opinion in and just back it up with fact.

Otherwise…You’re like Rush Limbaugh.

So in nutshell you should have all the basic which a blogger should have and to make it more attractive photos and videos are always there.

Sounding really interesting and I am sure this will also help me to get better in my writing skill.

Great tips! But in my country, blogger who voice out own opinions and writes about something bad about government, they will get punished or get in jail for weeks or months. Anyway, I got no interest to write about politic and my parents asked me not to write it, or else I got the chance to stay in jail for months. lol!

Regards, Lee

Hmm, haven’t tried it yet.. thinking of doing it, these tips should be great. Thanks

Political blogs attract a lot of traffic – eg.Huffingtonpost, TPM, NPR, Politico, Dailykos

But it also pretty difficult to monetize. I’d be interested to watch now on how you grow your governmentalityblog.

how to be a political writer

Hi Darren , I had written a similar topic …on why its best to start a politics in today’s date

Good tips! Sometimes it seems like non-political bloggers should follow the “family reunion rule” and not talk about politics or religion. Well, my family is dysfunctional enough to talk about both!

I tried a political post during the last elections:

Car Salesmen and Politicians

Great draftsmanship in this post. I am now considering writing on politics because of this post and its succinct presentation. Problogger has provided great resources for me. Thanks to the organization and all the participants, the comments are collectible as well.

The old rule in business is that you don’t discuss politics or religion; for blogs not focused on politics, just following that rule is far better advice than the otherwise good advice in this article. My first blog was a political one that I ran as a test of the software before going live using it to provide news on a business site, so I’m no stranger to writing about politics. Even so, I steer clear of including political opinion on my business sites. For a long time, I even hesitated to include a link to the political blog.

I nearly stopped subscribing to a cooking blog that I really enjoy when the author gushed long and hard about a particular candidate in the last US election to the point of asking her readers to vote for him as a personal favor. (Does the fact that she was gushing give away which candidate it was?) I decided to stay on, but it left a bad taste in my mouth – usually not the result that a cook wants.

how to be a political writer

Great tips, but I would think that political blogging is way too competitive especially for unknowns.

ehm. i guess too many political blogger todays. But i like them.

I really got attracted to this because I have two blogs – one generic ( and one specifically on Indian politics ( – 7 RCR is short for 7 Race course rd, the official residence of Indian Prime Minister). My writings on have been pretty well received on topics about South Asian (India/Pakistan politics etc), but somehow it does not .. yet.. translate into money. :)

Another thing I wanted to point out here is – that Blogging on politics has two specific tones, if you will: a Rant/Rave kind of partisan writing (which I found most common during the US Presidential writings – and is soem variation of Rush Limbaugh school of “journalism”, if you want to really cal journalism!) and the “NPR-like” sedate/balanced.

It seems to me that the former (rant/rave) kind easily become more popular.. although it lacks substance and is hardly educative!

So, if one wants to go ahead on politics blogging what style should one take? With “Sanity” in mind and with “Popularity” in mind?

Any thoughts on that front from the author and others?


how to be a political writer

Political blogs can be a bit challenging to write,especially if you have less interest in politics. but also for those into politics “political junks’ can surelly pump alot of content and creat a forest of articles.but with a desert of boring stuff to scare away visitors..sounds tough niche ah! The answer is yes and big NO… Political blogs attract millions of readers dairly even for those not into politics.simply for 3 reasons that most bloggers don’t know.

1.KISS your content before posting..Sorry guys.when i say “kiss” I mean (keep It So Short) not long and boring 2.make it attractive,with most current issues first and accompany it with relevant fotos this is very paramount. 3.choose a compatable layout. ie one colomn or personal blog layout won’t work..

hope you find this usefull guys,thanks

Matutu Nyabange

Writing about current events and politics can be really difficult. Thanks for the useful tips.

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How To Become a Political Speech Writer

The political speechwriter is one of the most revered members of the political staff. You recognize the stereotype: the unkempt hair, the desk covered in empty coffee cups, and the expressionless gaze fixed on a laptop screen. Their battle is real, but their brave writing can inspire an entire country to stand up.

As a speechwriter for Rep. Barton Swaim, he occupied that location for nearly four years. Mark Sanford during his time as governor of South Carolina. Swaim knew he wanted to write a book about political life when he began working in Sanford’s office. He wanted to write something humorous, perhaps a novel. Then the Appalachian Trail happened. Swarts’ most recent book, The Speechwriter, describes his time in Sanford’s office before and after it was discovered that Sanford had been seeing a woman in Argentina while pretending to be hiking.

According to Swaim, “I thought I was going to be this great speechwriter, stringing grand phrases together and soaring oratory and all that,” “I was essentially just thinking of cute things you could say at a meeting of the National Square Dancing Society, or a grand opening at the Heinz factory,” So, coming up with stories about ketchup. “.

“I’m interested in the tale of a young man who, fearing that the Army might reconsider letting him fly, drove right away to the train station while leaving his car and $1,000 in camera gear. He never saw his car. He never saw his camera. But he became a flyer. In our presence, these men experienced a unique sense of urgency. They were engaged in two wars: one in Europe and the other in the minds and hearts of our people. Thats why were here. “.

Swaim and Latimer are just two political speechwriters in a long line who are moving toward more artistic expressions of their craft. What I Saw at the Revolution, a book by Peggy Noonan, details the speechwriting for President Reagan and Vice President George H W. Bush. And Mark Salter, who wrote speeches for Sen. O: A Presidential Novel’s anonymous author, John McCain, was identified in 2011 during his campaign for president in 2008.

What does a political speechwriter do?

A political speechwriter is responsible for the following tasks:

What is a political speechwriter?

Someone who writes speeches for politicians to deliver to their audiences is known as a political speechwriter. People in this fascinating but difficult position use their writing skills to condense a politician’s main ideas and values into a persuasive speech. As a political speechwriter, you create a variety of speeches that appeal to a politician’s main constituency. Your speeches should be an impressive yet sophisticated example of public discourse.

How to become a political speechwriter

Follow these steps to become a political speechwriter:

1. Earn a degree

Gaining a degree in a field of study that is relevant can help you get ready for this demanding career. Think about majoring in English, political science, or a related field for your bachelor’s degree. Essentially, you want to use your time in college to improve your writing. Enroll in classes that will help you improve both your political understanding and your speech writing abilities.

Through internships, volunteer work, and involvement in student organizations, you can also use your time in college to acquire valuable experiences. Try to fit the profile of the politician you want to write for. Demonstrate your political engagement and knowledge of the world.

2. Involve yourself in politics

Although there may be a wide range of opportunities for writers, political speech writing is a specialized field. Politicians and their staff need to see that you’re serious about this opportunity. Make an effort to read the news every day so that you are informed of the most recent political developments. Learn the names and principles of the politicians you want to collaborate with. Consider volunteering as a campaign staffer and help with elections. Along with gaining new experiences for your resume, you are also sharpening your political acumen.

3. Start making connections

By networking with the right people, you can increase your chances of landing a job as a political speechwriter. Learning about these job opportunities requires getting involved in the political world. Make an effort to attend political functions and networking events. Have business cards available to give to people who request your contact details. Be sure to maintain contact with any new acquaintances you make. One day, someone might be in a position to suggest you for a job or even serve as a referral for you.

4. Produce writing samples

You can anticipate that an employer will request writing samples when you apply for a position writing political speeches. Without any prior professional experience, you can still demonstrate your writing abilities by creating sample speeches. Create a portfolio with different types of writing. Include written speeches for different political events and situations.

5. Apply for an entry-level position

Although there are opportunities for advancement in this field, you must start from the very bottom. Focus on submitting applications for internships or entry-level speech writing positions after graduating from college. Often, you’ll begin this career by collecting research or editing the writing of more seasoned writers. Eventually, youll be able to write your own speeches.

6. Advance your career

Developing your political speechwriting career is all about experience and networking. Make an effort to demonstrate your value as a speechwriter when working as a junior staff member. Make sure you consider how an audience will react to your speeches when you write them. If you need to conduct background research to ensure you are writing a factual speech, take that into account. Volunteering for more challenging projects and getting to know the politicians you want to work with will help you advance in this career.

Political speechwriter skills

Here are some skills successful political speechwriters have:

Three things you need to do to become a speechwriter

How much do political speech writers make?

Salary Ranges for Speech Writers The average annual salary for speech writers in the US is $85,950, with salaries ranging from $15,324 to $424,998. The middle 57% of Speech Writers makes between $85,952 and $198,921, with the top 86% making $424,998

How do you become a government speech writer?

  • Earn a degree. Gaining a degree in a field of study that is relevant can help you get ready for this demanding career.
  • Involve yourself in politics. …
  • Start making connections. …
  • Produce writing samples. …
  • Apply for an entry-level position. …
  • Advance your career.

What is a political speech writer?

When someone is hired to prepare and write speeches that will be delivered by another person, that person is known as a speechwriter. Many senior-level elected officials and executives in the public and private sectors hire speechwriters.

Is it hard to become a speech writer?

Successful speechwriting is not easy. But you will get better with practice. And despite the five reasons listed here, you might end up falling in love with it and finding it difficult to leave.

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How to Become a Writer: A Guide

Lindsay Kramer

So you want to be a writer. Awesome choice, if we do say so ourselves. 

But now you might find yourself wondering how to be a writer. Is a writer simply somebody who writes, or is there more to it? How much writing do you need to do before you can officially call yourself a writer? Do you need to get paid for your work in order to earn that title? Does it need to be published somewhere? 

Give your writing extra polish Grammarly helps you communicate the way you intend. Write with Grammarly

The answer to all of the questions above is no. As long as you’re writing, you’re a writer. Even if it takes ten years to get your first book published, you’ve been a writer since you sketched out your very first book outline. And although writing a book is one way to become a professional writer, it’s hardly the only way. Read on to learn more about the different writing careers you can pursue and how to get started. 

Determine the kind of writer you want to be

Writers fall into two very broad categories: writers who write simply for personal enjoyment and writers who write professionally. Many, perhaps even most, professional writers also write for fun and personal fulfillment—but not every writer who does it as a hobby also does it for a living. 

If you’ve determined you want to become a professional writer, there are a lot of different career paths to choose from. Take a look at a few of the most common career paths for writers:

Copywriters write the taglines, product descriptions, ads, and other short, emotion-packed bits of writing (known in the biz as “copy”) that drive people to take specific actions. Within this field, there are lots of specializations, like direct response copywriting, email copywriting, SEO copywriting, marketing copywriting, and brand copywriting. While plenty of copywriters are employed full-time, plenty more work for themselves, taking clients on a freelance basis. 

Beyond these specializations, copywriters typically focus on specific industries, like the medical industry, arts and entertainment, SAAS, pets, subscription services, and more—basically, any industry you can think of employs copywriters.  

According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for copywriters in the United States is $57,864.*

Content writer

The blog post you’re reading right now was written by a content writer. In fact, all the content you’ve ever read on a website, like how-to guides, informational articles, and the text on infographics, was written by content writers. Even the ads you’ve watched on TV come from content writers—after all, somebody has to write the scripts.  

Bloggers fall into the category of “content writer.” Just like copywriters, content writers typically specialize in one or a few specific industries. And just like copywriters, they can work in-house or freelance. 

According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for content writers in the United States is $47,233. 

Technical writer

Technical writers create documentation that teaches people how to use applications and tech equipment. They do this by writing instruction manuals, how-to guides, articles, and product guides. They write similar kinds of material as content writers, but the difference is that while content writers generally aim to engage readers, often as part of broader marketing strategies, technical writers write to explain how a product or system works. 

A technical writer’s work needs to be highly detailed and leave no room for misinterpretation or error. It’s fairly common, but not necessarily universal, for technical writers to have degrees or other formal training in STEM fields. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for technical writers was $74,650 per year in 2020.

Communications officer

A communications officer acts as the spokesperson for a brand or another organization, publishing content like press releases and responding to media inquiries. Communications officers are sometimes referred to as public relations specialists or communications specialists. 

According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for a communications officer is $57,896.

Journalists write timely news stories. A career in journalism requires more than writing skills; it requires strong research and interviewing skills, too. Journalists work in a variety of settings, from online outlets to radio and television to print publications. 

According to Payscale, the average annual salary for journalists in the US is $41,624.

Grant writer

A grant writer—also known as a proposal writer—researches, writes, and submits grant requests on behalf of individuals and organizations seeking funding. Generally, this role involves finding specific grants and determining whether they’re appropriate for the organization seeking them. It can also involve acting as a liaison between the funding provider and recipient. 

According to, the median salary for grant writers in the US is $72,645.

Columnists write and publish short essays from their personal points of view. Their publication platforms are known as “columns” and can be found in newspapers, magazines, and online. Often, a column covers news and evergreen topics within one specific area, like cryptocurrency or fashion design, and the columnist writing it has some sort of credential to write authoritatively on that subject—like a lengthy career as a crypto trader or an MFA in fashion design. 

According to, the average annual salary for columnists in the US is $66,725.

When you say “I’m a writer,” most people’s minds automatically jump to authors, as in published book authors.

For authors, it’s close to impossible to list an accurate annual salary. For every mega-bestselling author who rakes in millions, there are thousands of other authors sporadically publishing in literary magazines for a few hundred dollars per story. Even authors who publish books regularly and semi-regularly have wildly varying incomes, with the average coming in at $51,103 per year according to Payscale . If you’re considering the author path, the reality is that you’ll most likely need to work a full-time job while writing and publishing on the side. This is true whether you plan on pursuing traditional publishing or self-publishing, both of which have unique benefits and challenges for writers. 

>>Read More: How to Write a Book

If your primary focus is poetry, you’d refer to yourself as a poet. Similar to authors, poets’ incomes vary widely and typically, writing poetry is more of a monetized hobby than a full-time job. That said, there are commercial opportunities for poets, like writing for greeting card companies, but these are often on a freelance basis. 

Create realistic goals and expectations

The reality is this: You’re not likely to sit down and bang out a bestseller on the first try. Similarly, you’re not guaranteed to pitch a bunch of articles to websites and get them all accepted with no prior experience. Like every other pursuit, a writing career is something you cultivate and nurture over time. 

When you’re first starting out, set realistic goals for yourself. Maybe you want to become a full-time blogger . Choose a platform, set up your blog, and start publishing posts, giving yourself a reasonable but consistent schedule like one or two posts per week. Or maybe you’ve decided you want to give copywriting a shot. Some realistic starting points for an aspiring copywriter include listening to podcasts like The Copywriter Club and Copy Chief Radio , researching different areas of specialization, and applying for entry-level copywriting jobs and internships. You could even reach out to an already established copywriter for an informational interview .

The more you write and try out different kinds of writing, the better you’ll get to know yourself as a writer. Maybe you’ll find that you’re at your best when you’re working under a tight deadline and you have to focus on nothing but the work in front of you. Or you might find that’s the complete opposite of your style and you need lots of time to be able to write at a comfortable pace. Maybe writing is the creative outlet you need after spending the day at a boring desk job—or your best ideas come to you in the middle of the night. 

There are lots of different types of writers , and nobody fits neatly into one box or another. But taking the time to determine which type of writer you can primarily classify yourself as can help you identify your strengths and areas of opportunity. If you’re planning to pursue writing as a career, it can also help you determine which kind of writing career suits you best. A meticulous plotter, for example, can find a ton of success as a technical writer, but they might not have the spontaneity necessary to make it as a direct response copywriter. Similarly, an idea generator can be their blogging client’s best-kept secret, but they might not make a great grant writer. 

Work with the tools writers use

There are a lot of apps and other tools available to help you organize your writing, take notes on the go, write faster, and make sure your work is free of mistakes (hint hint: there’s one that starts with a G and ends with “rammarly”). 

Explore these tools and if you plan on going into a specific writing-focused career field, familiarize yourself with the tools writers in that industry use most frequently. A few of the most common tools professional and hobby writers use are:

  • Google Docs
  • Wordstream Free Keyword Tool
  • FX Flesch-Kincaid Readability tool
  • Citation Machine
  • StayFocused

There are more tools and resources available for you—a lot more. Many of them are specific to certain kinds of writing, like Yoast, which is a search engine optimization (SEO) plug-in. 

Become a regular reader

You’ve probably been told that if you want to be a writer, you need to be a reader. And it’s true—just like listening to a variety of music is key to being a skilled musician, reading lots of different kinds of writing will help you become a stronger writer. 

Don’t just read the kind of writing you want to do; read about writing. Here are a few great books for learning about different types of writing and the craft of writing:

  • Breakthrough Copywriting by David Garfinkel
  • Wired for Story by Lisa Cron
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
  • Telling True Stories by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call

Other valuable resources for writers include blogs and social media groups about writing. Reading doesn’t have to be a formal, sit-down-and-don’t-get-up-until-you’ve-finished-the-chapter kind of thing; you can easily get some valuable reading in by scrolling the r/writing subreddit or another forum for writers while you’re standing in line at the store, sitting on the bus, or on your work breaks. 

Common questions about becoming a writer

Do you need a degree to be a writer.

Not necessarily. But it can help, and if you’re looking for full-time writing jobs, a degree may be required. 

Common degrees to pursue if you want to be a writer include English, journalism, and communications. It also isn’t uncommon for a professional writer to have a degree in another area and focus their career on writing in that niche. For example, you might have a degree in economics and decide you’d like to become a finance journalist. 

Advanced degrees and beyond

Just like you don’t need a bachelor’s degree to become a writer, you don’t need an advanced degree—in most cases. As you search for writing jobs, you’ll likely come across listings for higher-level positions that do require advanced degrees. Usually, these listings are for candidates with highly specialized knowledge in one area, like a listing for a legal writer requiring that all applicants have a JD. But do you need an MFA in Creative Writing to publish your novel? Of course not!

Do I really need to write every day?

You’ve probably heard that if you want to be a professional writer, you need to write every day. What this advice really boils down to is practice makes perfect. You don’t necessarily have to write every single day, but carving out a block of time to focus on your writing regularly will help you become a stronger writer. 

Where can I connect with other writers?

For a lot of writers, being part of a writing community is important. This is especially true if you go the freelance route—it’s always helpful to have peers you can bounce ideas off and ask for advice. 

You can find lots of writing communities on social media as well as other places online. Some are free and open to everybody, while others are industry- and niche-specific and may require membership dues. You can also find in-person writing groups through platforms like 

Become a better writer instantly

As Hemingway said, good writing is rewriting. But before you can rewrite your work, you need to know where you made mistakes and where you can make changes to make your writing stronger. Grammarly can help with that. 

No matter what kind of writing you’re doing, Grammarly catches issues with punctuation, grammar and syntax mistakes, and tone inconsistencies. This way, your writing doesn’t just shine but also helps you reach your goals—whether that’s to teach your reader something, to convey important information, or to make them feel something deeply. 

*All salaries cited in this article were the averages at the time of this article’s original publication unless noted otherwise.

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Growing Into A Successful Freelance Political Writer: Basic Tips

Politics is perhaps the most relevant area in today’s digital world. It is relevant to everything we do, including how we live, how much we earn and what our kids learn at school. This is what makes it an interesting topic to read about. Writing about politics while being a freelancer is another issue altogether. If you are planning to become a successful freelance political writer, you have come to the right place because we have some great tips for you.

  • Hone your skills

Before you start to rely on something as a job that will pay for your lifestyle, first you have to know how to do it. To be a political writer, you have to know a lot about politics. This can only be accomplished by devouring lots of magazines and newspapers. Interviews of political figures and discussions on political issues on television and on radio are also rich sources for gaining knowledge. There are innumerable news sites online that you can read. Subscribe to magazine, websites, and television and radio channels and soak up political information like a sponge.

The basic advantage of the above approach is that you will improve your knowledge of your subject area. The added advantage is that you will be exposed to a huge variety of writing and commentating styles which will help you formulate your own individual style.

  • Hone your style

All your research, described above will help you choose your style. But simply researching is not enough, you have to actively think and decide about what style you will use. Are you good at political satire? Are you a more mainstream and serious political writer? Do you want to report facts or are you more interested in writing opinion pieces. Make a decision.

  • Pitch your ideas

If no one knows you exist, no one will hire you. Work on your pitch and create a great template that is customizable according to the publication you are applying to. Market yourself and pitch to lots of different people. Pitch your skills and also pitch story ideas.

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'Fargo' Season 5 Tackles Trump Era, but Isn't Intended To Be 'Political'

Posted: November 22, 2023 | Last updated: November 23, 2023

After a three-year wait , the critically acclaimed crime anthology series Fargo is back on our screens.

Based on the 1996 Coen Brothers' film of the same name, the fifth season includes the signature dark humor, outlandish twists and Minnesotan accents that Fargo fans know and love.

While previous seasons have been set anywhere from 1950 to 2011, Fargo Season 5 embraces the pre-pandemic, post-Trump election era to explore the idea of "Minnesota nice"—and what happens when polite society breaks down in a fraught political climate.

"What we've started to see over the last few years is that people have stopped being nice, passive-aggressive, and become just aggressive," director Noah Hawley told Newsweek .

"So what happens to those people who thought they lived in a world where everyone was actually friendly, and now they realize that there aren't that many actual friendly people."

In a Newsweek exclusive, Hawley talks exploring a divided society without being "political," and why every main character in Season 5 would vote Republican.

What is Fargo Season 5 About?

Set in 2019, Season 5 follows Dorothy "Dot" Lyon (Juno Temple), a suburban mom and housewife whose dark past threatens to destroy her happy family life with husband Wayne (David Rysdahl) and daughter Scotty (Sienna King).

Corrupt sheriff Roy Tillman (Jon Hamm) and his over-confident but unintelligent son Gator Tillman (Joe Keery) are just two of the players on the hunt for Dot, while her suspicious mother-in-law—millionaire debt collector Lorraine Lyon (Jennifer Jason Leigh)—and her fixer Danish Greaves (Dave Foley) are on hand to make the situation more complicated.

Throw in two good cops—played by Lamorne Morris and Richa Moorjani—an oddball hitman (Sam Spruell) and the snowy Upper Mid-West, and you've got everything you need for a classic season of Fargo .

While Season 5 grapples with more timely topics than previous entries, at its core is the concept of "Minnesota nice," the stereotype that Minnesotans are eerily polite yet extremely passive-aggressive.

"In polite society, people don't bend, really they just break," Hawley said. "Keep up this stiff upper lip, this friendly demeanor, even though it's killing them."

Although only set four years into the past, the latest season still features that quaint sense of Americana that has become a Fargo trademark.

"You're in this sort of Fargo universe," Hawley said. "The past is very much alive. It's kind of 2003 and 1962. There's the music and the quaint decency of people that feels like a throwback.

"So even though it's contemporary, we're still we're still carrying around that sense of America."

'We're Not Trying To Be Political'

Although Season 5 is just as offbeat and darkly humorous as previous outings, it's also set the closest to the present. While some of the season's wilder moments are reminiscent of Home Alone and Die Hard —comparisons that Hawley agrees with—others eerily echo today's political climate.

"We're not trying to be political," Hawley said. "I think the idea is looking at society. And what happens in a society when the sense of the mutual agreement we make to live in this society together starts to break down."

Misogyny, toxic masculinity, religious dominance, freedom of speech and far-right conspiracy theories are key themes throughout the season, from Lorraine Lyon's gun-wielding family Christmas card (a nod to Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie ) to Roy Tillman's fundamentalist Christian rants about wives obeying their husbands.

When it comes to the politics of his characters, Hawley believes that almost every main character would vote Republican.

"Certainly Lorraine the Queen of Debt is in the sort of old-school billionaire class of Republican politics," he said.

"I think Roy and his family are more MAGA Republicans , but also [I can see] Lorraine and her husband, being this whole new conservative, more mainstream.

"I just wanted to explore that divide between the sense that as society evolves, people are taking some care and responsibility for each other, and the 'we're all in it alone' thinking."

Fargo Season 5 airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX and streams the following day on Hulu.

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Jon Hamm as Sheriff Roy Tillman in "Fargo" season 5. Hamm stars as a fundamentalist Christian sheriff with some unusual ideas about law enforcement.

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Why selfies can be a force for social good

Selfie woman getty 877570232

The word ‘selfie’ may bring to mind an adolescent girl making duck faces at an iPhone, seemingly oblivious to her surroundings, or a daredevil hanging off a skyscraper moments from death – symptoms of a self-obsessed culture and, some argue, the decline of society – but selfies have much deeper cultural implications that complicate those stereotypes. In her new book, The Selfie Generation , author Alicia Eler breaks with clichés to imagine the selfie as a double-edged sword, at once an empowering and vulnerable phenomenon, characteristic of the digital age.

Was there ever a time when adolescents weren’t obsessed with their own image? – Alicia Eler

In opposition to the assumption that selfies are objectifying or narcissistic, selfies have been key for empowering marginalised groups like women, people of colour (POC), the LGBTQ community, migrants and refugees. Mass media at our fingertips created access to all kinds of characters, a new generation of individuals who aren’t as afraid to be different or unique, ultimately creating a mirror, says Eler. “Was there ever a time when adolescents weren’t obsessed with their own image?” she asks. Young or old, you can’t blame people for wanting validation, and now it's just a swipe and a tap away.

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Back in 2013, Eler wrote a piece for Hyperallergic titled The Feminist Politics of #Selfies, focusing on POC women and selfies, in response to an article posted on the women’s blog Jezebel that suggested selfies are a cry for help, among a plethora of negative slanting media coverage. “Actually can we talk about what #selfies mean to people who never get a chance to see themselves in mainstream media?” wrote feminist comic book author Mikki Kendall on her Twitter account in November of that year. While posting selfies publicly inherently exposes the person to trolling and hate speech, it also connects them with a global network of potential support. With the rise of the selfie, images of marginalised ‘others that were once kept out of the mainstream have become iconic.

Wired magazine has called cultural critic Alicia Eler “a semiotician of the selfie” for her analyses of the social and political implications of selfies (Credit: Alicia Eler)

Wired magazine has called cultural critic Alicia Eler “a semiotician of the selfie” for her analyses of the social and political implications of selfies (Credit: Alicia Eler)

Since 2013, when ‘selfie’ was Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year, these contemporary self-portraits have become ubiquitous in an age when visibility can be synonymous with political power. Resistance and protest movements have taken on new forms since then. They’re less about marching with banners or community organising and more about decentralised fluidity or being seen across multiple online platforms. 

In a work called Narcissus the artist David Trullo made bathroom tiles out of the photos of shirtless men taking selfies in bathrooms (Credit: David Trullo)

In a work called Narcissus the artist David Trullo made bathroom tiles out of the photos of shirtless men taking selfies in bathrooms (Credit: David Trullo)

“They are aimed at gaining visibility through a different logic – by using common images, tactics, hashtags, identity politics and iconic events,” writes author Irmgard Emmelhainz for e-flux .

The flip side

Of course, there’s a drawback that has become all too apparent in recent years: surveillance. Despite revelations of spying by the NSA on ordinary American citizens, or the fact that our personal information is mined and sold by large social media corporations, we seem undeterred from posting our most personal moments for all to see. We love to selfie, even if our own images are monetised for the profit of others, our every online action is monitored, and our movements tracked by the very tools that connect us.

Selfies are a way of saying, ‘I am here, I’m alive and I’m not afraid.”

“The threat is not a digital one so much as it is a personal one,” writes Eler. There is a pervasive attitude of ‘I have nothing to hide,’ but that reality is different for those same activists and artists who may be empowered by the visibility that selfies offer. Working under the constraints of surveillance in an age where visibility translates to political power forces dissident movements to be fluid in their approach because their digital footprint may be used against them, even as today’s tech is one of their most important tools. We see this playing out in the citizen journalism movement, whether it’s a smartphone video of a white police officer shooting and killing an African-American man or the recorded final messages of citizens in war-torn Syria, this new ‘self surveillance’ has resulted in some of the most moving documents of political events in history.

Paris Hilton claims that a photo she took of herself with Britney Spears in 2006 was the invention of the selfie (Credit: Paris Hilton)

Paris Hilton claims that a photo she took of herself with Britney Spears in 2006 was the invention of the selfie (Credit: Paris Hilton)

Eler cites the Standing Rock protests, where the US company Energy Transfer was due to build a massive oil pipeline but was met with staunch resistance from the Native American community. Lakota Oglala poet and activist Mark Tilsen spent months at Standing Rock, and he told Eler about the constant surveillance happening there at the hands of the Tigerswan ‘counterterrorism’ contractor hired by Energy Transfer. When calls did go through, heavy breathing could sometimes be heard in the background, said Tilsen – their phones had been tapped. When the rumour circulated that law enforcement was using Facebook check-ins to track who was at the protest camp, over a million people across the world ‘checked in’ at Standing Rock in solidarity with the protestors.

Shares or check-ins can also be understood as more sophisticated selfies

I’m reminded of a recent Instagram post by artist Glenn Ligon: in a screen grab from his iPhone we see the image of the wireless network menu, and the first network reads “FBI Surveillance Van #9013C.” Was there really an FBI surveillance van nearby? We don’t know. But those shares or check-ins can also be understood as more sophisticated selfies, argues Eler. Under surveillance and perhaps even in physical danger, selfies are a way to declare, “I am here, I’m alive and I’m not afraid.”

A photograph of a photograph – this wedding party for a couple in The Philippines displaced by war take a selfie to note their special occasion (Credit: Getty Images)

A photograph of a photograph – this wedding party for a couple in The Philippines displaced by war take a selfie to note their special occasion (Credit: Getty Images)

How can selfies and online activism make a difference? In his December 2017 interview with Prince Harry for BBC Radio 4, former US President Barack Obama said that in order for online movements to have an impact in the real world communities need to “move offline”. It’s easy to be a hateful troll or an outspoken political opponent veiled by the anonymity of the internet, Obama told the prince, but when you sit down with someone over a pint the complexities of their being are more apparent, and you might be able to connect with someone unexpected. If not, our ideas are only reinforced by the feedback loop of social media.


Artists were quick to adopt the selfie as a rich subject matter and material. In 2003 Ryan McGinley was launched to stardom with his first solo show, The Kids Are Alright, at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, one of the youngest artists to ever be featured by the prestigious institution. Many recoiled from the works’ controversial subject matter, many more rejoiced over its rawness, which painted a portrait of a somewhat dystopian youth culture in New York and in the US. Beyond uncensored documents, McGinley also turned the camera on himself for deeply intimate self-portraits in the style of what would later become known as ‘selfies’.

Ryan McGinley, in addition to photographing youth culture, turned his lens on himself in work anticipating the selfie shown at the Whitney Museum in 2003 (Credit: Ryan McGinley)

Ryan McGinley, in addition to photographing youth culture, turned his lens on himself in work anticipating the selfie shown at the Whitney Museum in 2003 (Credit: Ryan McGinley)

It wasn’t until 2006 that Paris Hilton claimed to invent the selfie posing alongside Britney Spears, according to The New York Times . More recently, controversy surrounding artist Richard Prince’s Instagram selfie appropriations, which were printed and sold for six-figure sums as contemporary art in the Gagosian Gallery, reached a fever pitch when he was sued for copyright infringement by photographer Donald Graham. The case is ongoing. Though, to be sure, both photographers benefited from the visibility as a result of the controversy, which gets at the age-old question of what can or cannot be considered art.

Artist Brannon Rockwell-Charland put her family portraits on images of her own body (Credit: Brannon Rockwell-Charland)

Artist Brannon Rockwell-Charland put her family portraits on images of her own body (Credit: Brannon Rockwell-Charland)

Beyond controversy, younger artists are taking a more nuanced approach to the selfie. In The Selfie Generation, Eler refers to an up-and-coming generation of artists like Peregrine Honig, who created an exhibition of paintings specifically for the purpose of taking selfies, and Brannon Rockwell-Charland, who uses selfies to create her artist persona online. “Selfies give me a sense of control in the face of the always-impending fetishisation of black women’s bodies,” says Rockwell-Charland. For her project 400 Nudes, artist Jillian Mayer searched the internet for nude selfies and posted her own face onto the bodies.

The selfie serves as a metaphor for a unique moment when, as Francisco de Goya claimed in his series The Disasters of War (1814), “the truth has died.” Selfies and internet culture call into question the basic premise of authenticity, as reflected in arts and politics today. ‘Post-truth’ and ‘fake news’ are not new concepts, and tools like selfies, social media or big data can’t be blamed for our weird reality. But maybe they can help us understand it.

If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our  Facebook  page or message us on   Twitter .

And if you liked this story,  sign up for the weekly features newsletter , called “If You Only Read 6 Things This Week”. A handpicked selection of stories from BBC Future, Culture, Capital and Travel, delivered to your inbox every Friday.

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Rosalynn Carter, First Lady and a Political Partner, Dies at 96

She helped propel Jimmy Carter from rural Georgia to the White House and became the most politically active first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt.

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A close-up photo of the Carters, with Rosalynn in the foreground, with wavy, collar-length brown hair. She is looking to the left, with a pensive smile. Mr. Carter, slightly out of focus and also looking left, has a serious, reflective expression.

By Katharine Q. Seelye

Rosalynn Carter, a true life partner to Jimmy Carter who helped propel him from rural Georgia to the White House in a single decade and became the most politically active first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt, died on Sunday in Plains, Ga. She was 96.

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The Carter Center in Atlanta announced her death. It had disclosed on May 30 that Mrs. Carter had dementia. “She continues to live happily at home with her husband, enjoying spring in Plains and visits with loved ones,” a statement by the center said at the time. On Friday, the center said she had entered hospice care at home.

Mr. Carter, 99, the longest-living president in American history, has also been in hospice care at their home, but so far he has defied expectations. The Carter Center had announced in February that he was stopping full-scale medical care “after a series of short hospital stays,” and his family was preparing for the end. But he has hung on — and celebrated his most recent birthday on Oct. 1.

Mrs. Carter was the second longest-lived first lady; Bess Truman , the widow of President Harry S. Truman, was 97 when she died in 1982.

Over their nearly eight decades together, Mr. and Mrs. Carter forged the closest of bonds, developing a personal and professional symbiosis remarkable for its sheer longevity.

Their extraordinary union began formally with their marriage in 1946, but, in a manner of speaking, it began long before that, with a touch of kismet, just after Rosalynn (pronounced ROSE-a-lynn) was born in Plains in 1927.

She had been delivered by Mr. Carter’s mother, a nurse. And a few days later, in a scene that might have been concocted by Hollywood, his mother took little Jimmy to Rosalynn’s house, where he “peeked into the cradle to see the newest baby on the street,” as he recalled in his 2015 memoir, “A Full Life, Reflections at Ninety.”

He was not quite 3. Eighteen years would pass before the two would truly connect. But once they did, they became life and work partners, melding so completely that as president Mr. Carter would call her “an almost equal extension of myself.”

Reared in the same tiny patch of Georgia farmland, 150 miles south of Atlanta, they were similar in temperament and outlook. They shared a fierce work ethic, a drive for self-improvement and an earnest, even pious, demeanor. Their Christian faith was central to their lives. Both were frugal. Both could be stubborn.

After Mr. Carter lost his re-election bid in 1980 to Ronald Reagan, he and Mrs. Carter embarked on what became the longest, most active post-presidency in American history. They traveled the world in support of human rights, democracy and health programs; domestically, they labored in service to others, most prominently pounding nails to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity.

In October 2019, after more than 73 years of marriage, they became the nation’s longest-married presidential couple, surpassing the record set by George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush. The Carters marked their 77th wedding anniversary in July.

In the continuum of first ladies after Mrs. Roosevelt, Mrs. Carter broke the mold. Like most of the others, she championed a cause — hers was the treatment of mental illness. But she also immersed herself in the business of the nation and kept a sharp eye on politics, a realm her husband famously claimed to ignore.

She frequently attended Mr. Carter’s cabinet meetings and traveled abroad to meet with heads of state in visits labeled substantive, not ceremonial. She often sat in on the daily National Security Council briefings held for the president and senior staff.

The couple held a weekly working lunch to discuss policy. Mrs. Carter testified before Congress and lobbied its members. Her handwriting appears on the drafts of many of her husband’s speeches and policy addresses.

Though soft-spoken, she was nevertheless assertive about her power and influence in public affairs.

“I was more a political partner than a political wife,” she wrote in her memoir, “First Lady From Plains,” published in 1984. She was referring to her years as first lady of Georgia, but her description applied equally to her tenure in the White House, from 1977 to 1981.

“When I come home very discouraged,” Mr. Carter told The New York Times in 1979 , “she listens to only just a few words and she looks around at me and says that I’ve got a problem with this or that. She knows enough about the background of that problem that I don’t have to sit for two hours and explain it to her.”

A full 16 years before Bill and Hillary Clinton would offer themselves to the nation as a package deal with the slogan “Buy one, get one free,” the Carters functioned as near co-presidents. The New York Times columnist Tom Wicker wrote in 1979 that Mrs. Carter “may be the most powerful first lady since Edith Bolling Wilson virtually took over for a stricken president,” Woodrow Wilson.

Mrs. Carter entered the White House at the height of the women’s movement and seemed to derive strength from it, though she did not identify herself as a feminist. She lobbied vigorously for the Equal Rights Amendment and for women to participate at all levels of government, from honor guard at the White House to justice of the Supreme Court. She had her staff assemble a roster of qualified women for various appointments, according to the National First Ladies’ Library , and she suggested candidates for federal judgeships.

With her push, Congress formally recognized the office of the first lady as a federal position and provided funding for a staff. Mrs. Carter became the first presidential wife to carry a briefcase daily to a White House office.

While Mr. Carter held himself above politics, saying it was not in his DNA — to the detriment of his presidency, his critics said — his wife acknowledged that for her, politics came naturally.

“I’ve always said I’m more political than Jimmy,” she once said. “I’m political, he’s not.”

Her husband’s advisers concurred. “She is clearly the most political first lady, maybe in history, in terms of being involved in politics and in the campaign,” Patrick Caddell , Mr. Carter’s pollster, told The Times during the 1980 re-election effort.

Robert S. Strauss , former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called her, admiringly, “a political animal.”

The news media often asked Mrs. Carter whether she should be wielding so much influence given that she had not been elected.

As she told The Times in 1978 : “I don’t think the people in this country are worried about where I’m going.” She added: “And I’m not doing what I’m doing for people who write about it. I’m doing it for the people I can help. And I really believe that I can help.”

She pointed out that she had worked outside the home all her life. “I can’t stay at home and do Cokes and teas,” she said, “although I think that for those people who want to do that, then that’s surely important to them.”

The remark was strikingly similar to a sentiment that Mrs. Clinton would express in 1992: “I suppose I could have stayed home, baked cookies and had teas,” Mrs. Clinton said. While Mrs. Clinton’s remark provoked a backlash, Mrs. Carter never drew that kind of wrath; she was not as contentious a figure as Mrs. Clinton and was never perceived as harboring political ambitions of her own.

But her impulse to use her influence could create headaches for the Carter administration. And in one particular case it led to political disaster. Shortly after scores of Americans were taken hostage in Iran in 1979, creating the biggest crisis of the Carter presidency, Mrs. Carter, without telling her husband, asked his brother, Billy, to use his ties to the Libyan government to seek the hostages’ release.

Nothing bad resulted from her request, but the subsequent disclosure that she had acted unilaterally on such a sensitive subject shocked the nation. Billy Carter , who eventually registered as a foreign agent to Libya, was often perceived as trading on his brother’s position for personal profit, and at the time of Mrs. Carter’s request, his ties to Libya were under investigation by the Justice Department.

For all of her involvement in presidential affairs, Mrs. Carter asserted that once her husband had made up his mind, she was powerless to change it. “He might be influenced to a certain degree,” she said, “but people just don’t know Jimmy Carter if they think I can persuade him to do something he doesn’t want to do.”

This was evident in early 1977, when he decided to lower the thermostats in the White House to 65 degrees during the day and to 55 at night. He wanted to set an example to encourage Americans to conserve energy and reduce reliance on foreign oil. Mrs. Carter said she got so cold that she could not concentrate and that her aides had to type with their gloves on. When he spurned her plea to crank up the thermostat, she resigned herself to wearing long underwear.

A Crush From Afar

Eleanor Rosalynn Smith was born on Aug. 18, 1927, the eldest of four children of Wilburn Edgar and Frances Allethea (Murray) Smith, who was known as Allie. Her father was a car mechanic, her mother a dressmaker.

After Rosalynn was brought into the world by Lillian Carter, Jimmy Carter’s mother, who also helped deliver her siblings, Rosalynn became playmates with Jimmy’s younger sister, Ruth (later Ruth Carter Stapleton, the evangelist).

As a teenager, while Jimmy was a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., Rosalynn developed a crush on him — she had seen a picture of him in his Navy uniform on Ruth’s wall. Rosalynn and Ruth conspired for years to get him to notice her, but after his fateful glimpse of her as a newborn, they had few encounters.

The Smiths were not as well off as the Carters. Rosalynn was 13 when her father died of leukemia, and her mother was left with an insurance policy that paid $18.75 a month. Rosalynn helped with the sewing and housekeeping and with raising her siblings. She also worked at the local beauty parlor, shampooing hair.

Despite her hardships and obligations, she was valedictorian of her class at Plains High School. She later commuted to Georgia Southwestern College, then a junior college (now Georgia Southwestern State University), in nearby Americus.

In 1945, when Mr. Carter was home on leave, he finally noticed Rosalynn and asked her out. She said yes.

“She’s the girl I want to marry,” he told his mother after that first date.

He later wrote, “She was remarkably beautiful, almost painfully shy, obviously intelligent, and yet unrestrained in our discussion on the rumble seat of the Ford Coupe.”

To Rosalynn, this upwardly mobile midshipman represented an escape from the small-town life that seemed to be her fate.

When she visited him at Annapolis that winter, he proposed, but she turned him down; she had promised her father on his deathbed that she wouldn’t marry until she finished college.

By summer, they had both graduated, she from junior college and he from Annapolis. They married on July 7, 1946. She was 18, he was 21.

The couple moved to Norfolk, Va., where Mr. Carter was stationed, though they would soon hopscotch across the country. The birthplaces of their three sons reflected their varied postings: John William was born in Virginia in 1947; James Earl III in Hawaii in 1950; and Donnel Jeffrey in Connecticut in 1952. (Their daughter, Amy, was born in Plains in 1967, long after Mr. Carter had left the Navy.)

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Carter is survived by her four children; 11 grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren, and her sister, Lillian Allethea Smith Wall. Her brothers, Murray and Jerrold, both died in 2003.

While in the Navy, Mr. Carter was away at sea much of the time. Although Mrs. Carter struggled at home alone with their young boys, she liked seeing the country and became increasingly confident and independent.

But when Mr. Carter’s father died in 1953 and her husband told her that they were moving back to Plains to take over the family peanut business, Mrs. Carter became distraught. She cried and screamed, she recalled in her memoir. She couldn’t bear the thought of returning to the small town they had left, or of living so close to her strong-willed mother and her strong-willed mother-in-law.

“It was the most serious argument of our marriage,” she wrote.

And one she lost.

Back in Plains, she was miserable and mostly stayed at home. Neighbors complained that she was aloof. The farm sputtered in a drought.

Eventually, Mrs. Carter eased into the financial side of the business, keeping the books and paying the bills. As she started advising her husband, their professional partnership began to develop, and she helped build the company into a lucrative farm supply business. It was a turning point in their relationship.

Politics Beckons

The civil rights movement brought upheaval to the South in the early 1960s. The Carters, unlike many of their neighbors, supported school desegregation, and Mr. Carter was inspired to run for office. He won a seat in the Georgia State Senate and in 1966 lost his first try for the governorship. Throughout those tumultuous years, Mrs. Carter continued to manage the business. Importantly, she overcame her terror of public speaking and immersed herself in her husband’s campaigns, helping him win the governor’s race in 1970.

“At the beginning, she was imprisoned by her shyness,” E. Stanly Godbold Jr., a Carter biographer, said in an interview for this obituary. “Once she started breaking out of her shell, she piggybacked her career onto her husband’s. Then she had a foot in both worlds, the liberated career woman as well as the supportive spouse.”

After Mr. Carter defeated Gerald R. Ford for president in 1976, Mrs. Carter brought a modesty to the White House, in stark contrast to the imperial presidency of the disgraced Richard M. Nixon, whose resignation had put Ford, his vice president, into the Oval Office.

On Inauguration Day, the Carter family walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to No. 1600. Only Thomas Jefferson had made that trek on foot before them, in 1801; the Carters’ decision began a tradition that the nation now expects of its newly minted first families.

At the inaugural balls, Mrs. Carter wore the same blue chiffon gown she had worn to the governor’s ball in Atlanta six years earlier.

The Carters sent their daughter to public school. They also brought her nanny, Mary Prince, to Washington. Ms. Prince had been wrongly convicted of murder in Georgia and, under a work-release program, assigned to work in the governor’s mansion. With Mrs. Carter’s help, she received a reprieve so that she could move into the White House, a move enabled by Mr. Carter’s having himself designated to be Ms. Prince’s parole officer. After a later re-examination of the evidence in her case, she received a full pardon.

The new first lady plunged into public affairs. At cabinet meetings, she did not speak but frequently buttonholed cabinet secretaries later to ask questions and then followed up with her husband.

More than 15 years before Mrs. Clinton caused a stir by leading President Clinton’s effort to overhaul the nation’s health care system, Mrs. Carter sought to upgrade the mental health system and expand services and protections for older Americans. Barred by statute from serving in an official capacity, Mrs. Carter was named honorary chairwoman of her husband’s mental health commission and led the White House Conference on Aging. She conducted nationwide hearings on both topics, testified before Congress and pressed for legislation.

The chief legislation she championed — the Mental Health Systems Act, which set up support and financing for community mental health centers — passed in 1980, though it was later scrapped by the Reagan administration. Another measure she had long sought — for health insurance to cover mental illness just as it covered physical illness — eventually passed but not until 2008, when President George W. Bush signed it into law.

Mrs. Carter’s activism also had global reach. She served as her husband’s envoy to Latin America. And when she learned details of the genocide in Cambodia and the refugee crisis there, she flew to see conditions for herself. She raised millions of dollars for relief and, according to the National First Ladies’ Library, she convinced Mr. Carter to increase U.S. quotas for refugees, permit food delivery directly into Cambodia and accelerate Peace Corps efforts in the region.

‘I Don’t Like to Lose’

As his re-election approached in 1980, with his poll numbers sagging, Mr. Carter, preoccupied by the hostage crisis in Iran, found himself largely confined to the White House and unable to campaign. Mrs. Carter stepped in as campaigner-in-chief, making speeches on the hustings and battling his challenger Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts for delegates at the Democratic convention.

Although Mr. Carter won his party’s nomination, it all came to naught in November, when Reagan decimated him at the ballot box, sweeping 44 states to Mr. Carter’s six. Mrs. Carter did not hide her disappointment, saying she was “bitter enough for both of us.”

Their eviction from the White House at relatively young ages — he was 56, she was 53 — left them angry, morose and righteous. “I’d like people to know that we were right, that what Jimmy Carter was doing was best for our country, and that people made a mistake by not voting for him,” Mrs. Carter wrote at the end of her memoir, adding: “I don’t like to lose.”

Eventually they regrouped and delved into multiple projects at home and abroad.

They co-founded the Carter Center in Atlanta to promote peace, resolve conflicts and eradicate diseases. One week a year, they helped build houses for Habitat for Humanity, working on more than 4,000 homes in more than a dozen countries. And they wrote a book together, “Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life,” published in 1987.

In 1999, the Carters jointly received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor and one rarely bestowed on a husband and wife.

Mrs. Carter, who also co-founded a nonprofit that promotes childhood immunizations, served as a deacon at the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains and liked to go fly-fishing and bird-watching with her husband. She practiced tai chi and meditated.

But her primary cause remained trying to reduce the stigma of mental illness, an effort reiterated in the Carter Center statement in May disclosing that she had dementia.

“One in 10 older Americans have dementia,” the statement said. “We hope sharing our family’s news will increase important conversations at kitchen tables and in doctor’s offices around the country.”

In championing mental health, Mrs. Carter served on several boards, hosted conferences and wrote books on the subject, including “Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis” (2010).

Recognizing the importance of caregiving, she founded and served as president of the board for the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers at Georgia Southwestern, her alma mater. Mrs. Carter often noted that there are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.

The Carter Center announced on Feb. 18 this year that Mr. Carter would live out his final days at their home in Plains. Mrs. Carter stayed with him there, at the small one-story ranch house where, except for their four-year detour to the White House, the couple had lived since 1961.

Mrs. Carter’s dementia had blurred some of her memories, her grandson Josh Carter told The Times in August, but she never forgot who her husband was.

They still held hands, Josh Carter said, adding: “They still sit on the couch together, in the same place they’ve always sat.”

  More about Katharine Q. Seelye

Trump calls political enemies ‘vermin,’ echoing dictators Hitler, Mussolini

On veterans day, the former president vowed to “root out” his liberal opponents, drawing backlash from historians who say his rhetoric is reminiscent of authoritarians.

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Former president Donald Trump denigrated his domestic opponents and critics during a Veterans Day speech Saturday, calling those on the other side of the aisle “vermin” and suggesting that they pose a greater threat to the United States than countries such as Russia, China or North Korea. That language is drawing rebuke from historians, who compared it to that of authoritarian leaders.

“We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections,” Trump said toward the end of his speech, repeating his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen. “They’ll do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American Dream.”

Trump went on further to state: “the threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous and grave than the threat from within. Our threat is from within. Because if you have a capable, competent, smart, tough leader, Russia, China, North Korea, they’re not going to want to play with us.”

The former president’s speech in Claremont, N.H., echoed his message of vengeance and grievance , as he called himself a “very proud election denier” and decried his legal entanglements, once again attacking the judge in a New York civil trial and re-upping his attacks on special counsel Jack Smith. In the speech, Trump once again portrayed himself as a victim of a political system that is out to get him and his supporters.

Yet Trump’s use of the word “vermin” both in his speech and in a Truth Social post on Saturday drew particular backlash.

“The language is the language that dictators use to instill fear,” said Timothy Naftali, a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. “When you dehumanize an opponent, you strip them of their constitutional rights to participate securely in a democracy because you’re saying they’re not human. That’s what dictators do.”

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian at New York University, said in an email to The Washington Post that “calling people 'vermin’ was used effectively by Hitler and Mussolini to dehumanize people and encourage their followers to engage in violence.”

“Trump is also using projection: note that he mentions all kinds of authoritarians ‘communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left’ to set himself up as the deliverer of freedom,” Ben-Ghiat said. “Mussolini promised freedom to his people too and then declared dictatorship.”

Steven Cheung, a Trump campaign spokesman, told The Post “those who try to make that ridiculous assertion are clearly snowflakes grasping for anything because they are suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome and their entire existence will be crushed when President Trump returns to the White House.”

Cheung later clarified that he meant to say their “sad, miserable existence" instead of their “entire existence.”

Trump also received widespread criticism and condemnation recently from groups such as the Anti-Defamation League for saying in an interview that undocumented immigrants were “ poisoning the blood of our country .”

Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the oldest Hispanic civil rights group in the country, said at the time that Trump’s comments about blood indicate his language is “getting more extreme,” comparing it to Nazi propaganda about Jewish people.

Trump’s divisive rhetoric comes as he remains the clear polling leader in the dwindling GOP primary field and as he and his allies have already started to plot ways for the federal government to punish his critics and opponents should he win back the White House next November. The Post recently reported that Trump — who faces 91 charges across four criminal cases — is naming the people he wants to investigate and prosecute , and his associates are drafting plans to potentially invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day in office, which would allow him to deploy the military in response to civil demonstrations.

In addition to attacking the “radical left,” he also spent part of the New Hampshire speech lashing out at a New York judge overseeing his civil fraud case, calling New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) a “disaster” and reiterating his descriptions of Smith as “deranged.” Smith has brought two indictments against Trump: one in a case charging Trump with illegally hoarding classified documents and the other alleging he sought to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power by seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election, leading to the Jan. 6 , 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

“The Trump-hating prosecutor in the case, his wife and family despise me much more than he does and I think he’s about a ten,” he said. “They’re about a 15, on a scale of ten. … He’s a disgrace to America.”

2024 presidential candidates

Catch up on the winners and losers and takeaways from the third Republican primary debate . Compare where the 2024 presidential candidates stand on key issues like abortion, climate and the economy.

Republicans: Top contenders for the GOP 2024 nomination include former president Donald Trump , Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Trump U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley . Here is The Post’s ranking of the top 10 Republican presidential candidates for 2024 .

Democrats: President Biden is running for reelection in 2024 . Here is The Post’s ranking of the top 10 Democratic presidential candidates for 2024 .

  • Comparing where 2024 presidential candidates stand on key issues November 8, 2023 Comparing where 2024 presidential candidates stand on key issues November 8, 2023
  • The winners and losers of the third Republican debate November 9, 2023 The winners and losers of the third Republican debate November 9, 2023
  • Many now see Haley as Trump’s top GOP challenger. She faces hurdles ahead. November 21, 2023 Many now see Haley as Trump’s top GOP challenger. She faces hurdles ahead. November 21, 2023

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Inside Fellow Travelers ’ Heartbreaking Turning Point in Episode 5

how to be a political writer

By David Canfield

Inside the Heartbreaking Turning Point of ‘Fellow Travelers Episode 5

The epic love story of Fellow Travelers reaches a wrenching turning point in its fifth episode, now streaming on Paramount+ With Showtime. Hawkins “Hawk” Fuller ( Matt Bomer ) and Tim Laughlin ( Jonathan Bailey ), closeted political staffers working in McCarthy-Era Washington, find their passionate, at times fraught romantic affair suddenly untenable as the cultural circumstances surrounding them intensify. Hawk is compelled to commit to a romance he doesn’t believe in with Lucy Smith ( Allison Williams ), daughter of the senator to whom Hawk has dedicated his career, after tragedy strikes and the family breaks apart. Tim’s allegiance to Senator Joseph McCarthy ( Chris Bauer ) finally, firmly cracks as he sees the demagogue’s methods for what they are, just as the Lavender Scare reaches its apex.

The episode’s title, “Promise You Won’t Write,” comes from one of the episode’s last lines, and is drawn straight from the novel by Thomas Mallon, the loose basis for the show. It captures the longing our lovelorn heroes are left with. Tim joins the military. Hawk gets engaged to a woman. Their story ends here, for now—a choice creator Ron Nyswaner made by situating their separation in a juicy political context, against the backdrop of the downfall of McCarthy at his Senate censure hearing and a similar moment of reckoning for Roy Cohn ( Will Brill ), both stories of which were pulled from the public historical record. Nyswaner puts down his artistic stamp by unifying all of these tales—plus that of fictional Black journalist Marcus Hooks ( Jelani Alladin ) as he embarks on his own new path—under the harrowingly wide cloud of homophobia. In Fellow Travelers , as in the U.S. circa 1954, no one could escape it; its impact could be life-or-death.

In an exclusive breakdown of the end of Fellow Travelers ’ time in the ‘50s, Nyswaner discusses his various storylines coming to a head at his series’s midpoint—as he gets ready to hurtle the action decades into the future.

** Vanity Fair: ** This is a real narrative turning point and marks the end of the McCarthy era for the show. Why now?

Ron Nyswaner: The Army-McCarthy hearings are a very important part of the story, because it is where Joe McCarthy's career comes to a crashing end. It just naturally seemed to fall here. I could develop the McCarthy/Cohn/Schine story through the first four episodes to this climactic point. Then it seemed, if that's going to be that climax, it felt natural that this is where Tim sees who his hero really is—well, but not just one hero, but who both of his heroes really are. Hawk reveals himself to Tim in a way that is disturbing to him; McCarthy reveals himself to Tim in a way that is really disturbing to him. That leaves Tim, as he says—he's lost. Then he joins the Army.

In all of the episode’s stories, this mere threat of outing informs seismic character changes, from Hawk to McCarthy to Cohn. It's obviously a statement for the show as a whole and this era you're working in. Can you just talk a little bit about understanding the sheer significance of that kind of threat coming to a head for characters here?

The Army-McCarthy hearings took place over weeks and weeks and weeks. The amount of transcripts are huge, but going into the research I really saw the very thing that you mentioned. You can look at the end of Joseph McCarthy's career in those hearings as caused by homophobia. I actually think we make a good case for it.

A lot of people think of it as a moment we didn’t include, when Joseph Welch pounds his fist on the table and says, “Have you no decency, sir?” Like, at long last tapping into decency, and boom, that was it, McCarthy was over. I'm not alone, as there is a McCarthy biographer who agrees with me, but to me the moment was when the words “pixie and fairy” are introduced into the dialogue and are pointed right at McCarthy and Cohn. From the story that we're telling, that was the natural climax of our show, because this demagogue who was the second most powerful person in the United States is brought down in flames, so to speak, by being painted with the gay brush. It destroyed his career. What I loved, and I twist it from the book, is that it was homosexuals in the show—Hawk and Tim; Tim unwittingly, Hawk wittingly—who bring down McCarthy and Cohn with homophobia . That great irony.

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Both Tim and Marcus’s turning points come as they act on a disillusionment with elite, exclusionary institutions. How do you see that in parallel to what we're talking about?

It’s this delicious thing of, What is historical fiction? You take real things and events from history and you assign them to your fictional characters. So: Somebody pointed out to somebody that the photo that Roy Cohn uses as a defense in the hearing is doctored. That would be a great thing for Tim to do. But very early on we developed that if Tim is going to join the Army, he has to become thoroughly disillusioned by everything that brought him to Washington in the first place. So the whole episode is structured for that disillusionment. I think also at the end of five Tim is running away. It's Hawk who says, “I'm going to marry Lucy Smith, who realizes, “All these things I've been doing to protect myself aren't enough because actually the person that I really cared about most, next to Tim, is dead in Senator Smith.” So Hawk is now just going to retreat into the safest place possible. And Tim really has no choice in some ways. He's done with politics, he's totally disillusioned by the corruption that he sees, and he runs away into the Army.

Marcus has this moment of strength, coming face to face in a way that he hasn't with the conflict between his aspirations, to please his family, be a successful journalist, and the price he would have to pay as a Black man to do that. That was based on Simeon Booker, who we know wasn't gay. So that part wasn't based on Simeon Booker, but Simeon Booker was a successful Black journalist from the Black press who was invited to be the first Black journalist at the Washington Post, and was told, “By the way, you have to use a different bathroom.” He lasted six months at the Washington Post , and went on and had this fabulous career as a journalist. So we took that piece of history and assigned it to our gay character.

This is the era where Tim and Hawk meet and fall in love, and they say goodbye as we say goodbye to the period. What’s the significance there?

Tim has come to a certain kind of maturity. When your heroes are stripped away from you, then you have to stand on your own. Hawk also seems to make peace with the fact of the decision that he has made, to actually have this straight life. That scene at the very end is from the book. I knew we had to have the rooftop scene. “If you promise you won't write;” “I won't.” We had to have that. It just seemed perfect to attach that to Cohn and the destruction of Cohn and Schine and the Cohn/Schine relationship—they also break up, so to speak. McCarthy is going to face censure any minute. Hawk and Tim acknowledge that something really important is between them, but it can't exist in the world that they live in now.

You intercut between that moment of recognition and us seeing them reunite in the ‘80s, which gives the moment a real sweep.

The sequence at the end of episode five was always in the script, that we would intercut those things. Novelists get to do this, if we're in somebody's head—they could be having an experience in the '80s, but they could be thinking about, “Oh, god. Remember when I had that date with Tim and we climbed to the rooftop?” So why not do it in film? Also, the whole sequence with Tim getting involved with the Army-McCarthy hearings and everything, suddenly if you go to the '80s in the middle of that you would lose the momentum. I learned specifically on my three years working on Homeland , every scene has to move the story forward. That was the rule on Homeland . If there were cards on the wall, they would be pulled off and thrown on the floor by the great genius Chip Johannessen, who was one of the writers in the room.

How did you want to depict the Cohn/Schine relationship here?

Everything that happens between them in public is based on historical record, but the scenes that we create in private obviously we created in private. You could see it as the experience that really solidified what Roy Cohn became. Somebody cut me off once when I was saying this, and they said, “Roy Cohn was a monster.” I said, “I think all monsters are human beings first.” What really makes them evil is that they're human beings doing evil things to other human beings. I believe it is true, the experience that really shaped Roy Cohn. I think Roy's and David's relationship was never consummated. That's just my theory. I think David was straight, and I think they both gave each other something. Roy gets to be with this beautiful man all the time. They traveled for three years together constantly and always stayed in adjoining hotel rooms. There was something happening there, and when Roy loses that he's now formed, he's now ready, he's never going to open his heart again. That's going to lead to the destruction that he creates as he moves forward in his life.

Everyone is kind of breaking up here, right?

Well, you always come back to the A story, that's conventional television writing, and the A story has to be in this show the central relationship. So everything has to connect to Hawk and Tim in some way, and so in this episode, because we are covering multiple people, Roy and David, McCarthy, Senator Smith, there's a thematic connection. So every couple in some ways is breaking up, and somebody has to be sacrificed to allow everybody to move on with their lives. It's really everybody in Hawk's life that becomes connected in episode five. Leonard didn't exist in the book, the Smith family didn't exist in the book. It really is the episode where everything in Hawk's life either falls apart or he takes control of and makes sacrifices for. He ultimately sacrifices Tim, his relationship with Tim, so that he can continue to survive.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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