I may either be getting myself into a great opportunity or I may have made one of the most boneheaded moves in my blogging life. It all depends on how things play out or if I even get to the point of being selected as a contender.
I just threw my hat in the ring for a contest by the Washington Post called “The Next Great American Political Pundit”. The prize is an opportunity to be a freelance editorial columnist for the Washington Post print and online editions. The following is where it gets interesting.
The Post will pick the top ten entries. The ten people picked (based on the merits of a 400-word opinion essay and a 100-word bio) will go through a series of “challenge rounds” every week that will test their mettle as political pundits. These challenges include activities such as holding their own in a video interview, writing on deadline, and fielding questions from readers in an online chat.
The contestants will be critiqued by a panel of Post columnists as well as voted on by the general public. A single winner will be selected after all is said and done and will be crowned “America’s Next Great Political Pundit.”
Yes, I can see the rolled eyes already. It is a political columnist version of American Idol or America’s Next Top Model. The concept has been panned by bloggers across the political spectrum and the Washington Post, itself has been called out for turning to a PR stunt. Why don’t they, instead, just hire a young, hotshot editorial columnist? There are lots of talented, provocative writers out there who can easily fill an editorial column.
• This is potentially something fun. I enjoy watching shows like American Idol and participating in a similar contest is something that I have always wanted to try.
• If I get picked to be in the top ten who will go through challenges this will be an opportunity to provide mainstream exposure to books, authors, ideas, activists I support. I’ve rarely seen mainstream editorial pages tackle issues such as the wide dissatisfaction of people with the two-party system, reforms like Instant Runoff Voting and the National Popular Vote, third party and independent activism, etc. This has been my blogging niche since 2007 and this is how I plan on continuing if I get picked.
• This is an opportunity to get a Post editorial column in my resume. At the end of the day, the prize is still something that a lot of would-be writers would kill for.
• I crafted my entry to the contest as a political independent urging the American political system be leveled to provide equal playing time for third parties and independents. That’s what I believe and what I really want and I think this contest will be an opportunity to give mainstream exposure to that type of argument.
Great opportunity or boneheaded move? You decide. It all depends on whether I get picked for the top ten and actually go through the challenge rounds. If I do y’all will be the first to know.