Again, WaPo’s Not Hiring-Hiring, But It’s Accepting Your Op-Ed App

The Washington Post is holding another reality-style contest to award someone a 13-week gig writing editorials for the paper.

Or, if you believe Justin Peters at CJR, “ten amateur columnists will compete for a tentative and poorly-paid thirteen-week slot on the Post’s op-ed page.” (The whole piece there is hysterical, but we digress.)

Prospective applicants must send the Post a 400-word opinion essay by Oct. 21, and then the top ten will compete in a reality-TV-style set of challenges where each week, a few contestants will be voted off the “island.” The winner will write a weekly column for 13 weeks and receive $200 per column.

And mad exposure, too, claims the Post: “We’ll set our promising pundit on a path to become the next byline in demand, the talking head every show wants to book, the voice that helps the country figure out what’s really going on.”

One’s gotta wonder why the Post finds these so attractive. Was there a study that showed that readers who have a say in choosing the writer are then more interested in reading? Won’t a majority of readers just vote based on the content of the pundit’s ideas, not his or her skill as a columnist? (That may be why the Post says “reader votes will help to determine” who stays and who goes; italics ours.)

The other thing. There have got to be hundreds if not thousands of people sending unsolicited op-eds to the Post daily. Why not just pick a couple from that selection, if there’s a hole on the op-ed page that needs filling? Why the big deal?