Frequently Asked Questions
The following material is preserved from the original AOJ website as of December 2016 and should be considered historical.
- What is AOJ?
The Association of Opinion Journalists has been the professional organization of choice for opinion writers and columnists around the world. It was founded in 1947 as the National Conference of Editorial Writers. AOJ remains dedicated to the craft of opinion journalism through education, professional development, exploration of issues and vigorous advocacy within journalism. As the industry evolves to include multi-media platforms, AOJ is committed to promoting a healthier civic culture in the changing media environment.
- Who can join?
The oldest and largest association for professional editorial writers, AOJ offers membership to editorial contributors to newspapers, radio and television stations, magazines and Internet publications; columnists; teachers of journalism; college students who profess a serious interest in editorial writing; and others who play an active role in editorial operations. Membership is not open to representatives of trade journals or party organs, public relations personnel or nonprofit advocacy organizations. There is an associate category for persons in related fields and former members.
- Why would I want to join?
Membership provides editorial and opinion page editors and writers access to kindred spirits across the country who are wrestling with the challenges of how to do more with fewer resources, how to encourage and facilitate reader participation, how to use available technologies to present compelling editorials and opinions.
The organization's e-mail-based members' discussion list (like a ListServ but on different host software) allows member-to-member exchanges about issues that everyone faces such as letters to the editor policies, how to handle letters during campaign season, how to be creative in crafting editorials or columns for annual events (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Groundhog Day. OK, so maybe not Groundhog Day). No need to steal an idea when it's willingly offered up by peers for peers to share.
Members alert each other to organized letter-writing campaigns masquerading as grassroots support for an issue faster than you can say "Astroturf."
- What are some of the other benefits of membership?
AOJ provides members opportunities to participate in educational programs such as annual State Department briefings in Washington. Since soon after NCEW's founding in 1947, the annual convention provided members the opportunity to hear from national newsmakers about the compelling topics of the day while also offering daylong critique sessions and workshops on new technology. Members met face-to-face, and it is not an exaggeration to say lifelong personal friendships have blossomed at NCEW and AOJ conventions. As part of continuing adjustments to a new media environment, beginning in 2014 the annual gathering will serve as a symposium to better meet the educational missions of both AOJ and the AOJ Foundation.
What makes AOJ unique from other professional journalism organizations is the camaraderie among its members. Some of our industry's best-known and accomplished writers, including Pulitzer Prize winners, provide support and encouragement. Ego and ideologies don't come into play. What matters is sustaining each other while we work as a group to ensure the future of a vibrant and vital voice in democracy - the editorial.