Contest Dates: Feb. 13, 2020 – April 1, 2020
Every school day, we use our daily Student Opinion feature to invite teenagers to share their opinions about questions we pose — and hundreds do, posting arguments, reflections and anecdotes.
Now, for the seventh year in a row, we’re inviting them to make those thoughts into something a little more formal: short, evidence-based persuasive essays like the editorials The New York Times publishes every day.
Students, the challenge is fairly straightforward. Choose a topic you care about — whether it’s something we’ve addressed on this site or not — then gather evidence from sources both within and outside The New York Times and write a concise editorial (450 words or fewer) to convince readers of your view.
Because editorial writing at newspapers is a collaborative process, you can write your entry as a team or by yourself — though, please, only one submission per student.
Our judges will then use for selecting winners to publish on The Learning Network.
As teachers know, the persuasive essay has long been a staple of high school education, but the Common Core standards seem to have put evidence-based argumentative writing on everybody’s agenda. You couldn’t ask for a more real-world example of the genre than the classic newspaper editorial — and The Times publishes, on average, two of them a day.
And at a time when breaking out of one’s “filter bubble” is more important than ever, we hope this contest also encourages students to broaden their news diets by using multiple sources, ideally ones that offer a range of perspectives on their chosen issue.
Please note: We will update this page with more detailed rules and the submission form on or before Feb. 13, 2020, the date when this contest officially opens.
Until then, here are some useful resources so teachers and students can begin planning for this contest:
• The winning entries from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014
• Our webinar: “Write to Change the World: Crafting Persuasive Pieces With Help From Nicholas Kristof and the Times Op-Ed Page”
• Our writing prompts: 401 Prompts for Argumentative Writing
• Our video “How to Write an Editorial”
• Our lesson plan: “10 Ways to Teach Argument-Writing With The New York Times” which links to many more resources relevant to this contest, including ideas from educators who teach with the contest annually.
• A link to add this contest to your Google calendar
• Our contest rubric
If you have any questions about this contest, please contact us at LNFeedback@nytimes.com.
2020 Contest Rules and Guidelines
1. You can write your editorial about any topic you like, as long as you use at least one source from The Times.
2. Use at least one non-Times source. But make sure that the source you use is a reliable one. We encourage you to find sources that offer different perspectives on an issue.
3. Always cite your sources. Our submission form contains a required field for entering your citations. We include an example as well, though you can use M.L.A. or A.P.A. styles, or just list the web addresses. Even if you use a print source or an expert interview, you must provide a citation. Readers (and judges) should always be able to tell where you got your evidence. However, there is no need to provide an in-text citation.
4. The editorial must not exceed 450 words. Your title and list of sources are separate, however, and do not count as part of your 450-word limit.
5. Have an opinion. Editorials are different from news articles because they try to persuade readers to share your point of view. Don’t be afraid to take a stand.
6. Write your editorial by yourself or with a group, but please submit only one editorial per student. If you are working as a team, just remember to submit all of your names when you post your entry. And if you’re submitting as part of a team, you should not also submit as an individual.
7. Be original and use appropriate language. Write for a well-informed audience, but include enough background information to give context. Be careful not to plagiarize. Use quotation marks around lines you take verbatim from another source, or rephrase and cite your source.
8. We will use this rubric to judge entries, and the winning editorials will be featured on The Learning Network. Your work will be judged by Times journalists as well as Learning Network staff members.
9. What is the “prize”? Having your work published on The Learning Network — and, potentially, in print in a Times special section.
10. Submissions must be from middle and high school students. We are still determining what the minimum age will be. Please stay tuned.
11. The children and stepchildren of New York Times employees, or teenagers who live in the same household as a Times employee, are not eligible to enter this contest.