Many people are under the mistaken impression that it's next-to-impossible to get an article on the opinion-editorial (op-ed) page of the local newspaper. Actually, your chances are quite good. That is, if you follow the basic rules.

1. The New York Times recommends that op-eds run about 700 words. While papers may differ somewhat from that standard, it is suggested that op-eds be somewhere near 650 to 750 words. As op-eds grow longer, the risk of them being edited or, in other words, "chopped" by the editor, increases significantly. Double space your op-ed and make sure it is typewritten.

2. Make it timely, make it topical and make it local. Link it to some event that either just happened or is about to happen. Has there been a relevant incident in your neighborhood, your city or your state? Keep this in mind. Any incident, episode or issue that has to do with the underlying values of the flag campaign would qualify. These include respect; discipline; law and order; free speech; service to country and, of course, the promotion of or lack of patriotism.

3. The placement of an op-ed is significantly enhanced by the name of the author. For example, people who are considered "newsworthy" or leaders in the community, have a better chance of having their op-eds published.

4. Because each paper has specific criteria for publishing op-eds, it is best to call the editorial page editor of a target newspaper to verify its policy, prior to submitting your piece. You may wish to accompany your op-ed with a short note explaining who you are and why you're writing the piece.

5. The piece can be either mailed, faxed, e-mailed or hand delivered to the newspaper. In many of the larger dailies, e-mail is often the best delivery vehicle. Those papers usually publish their e-mail address on their editorial pages. In the smaller communities, delivering the piece in person is preferred and will sometimes allow the writer an opportunity to go face-to-face with the editorial page editor.

An individual submitting a piece on the flag protection effort to a newspaper need not be a John Steinbeck in order to get published, although it might help. The important point to remember is to state your opinion in a way people will easily understand. The materials to substantiate your opinion of flag protection can be found elsewhere on this website.