Int’l Syndicate Bringing Op-Eds to the U.S.

By: Dave Astor

Since it started a dozen years ago in the Czech Republic, Project Syndicate has built a list of 287 “member” newspapers in 116 countries. But it was little known in the United States until this winter.

The syndicate — which offers Op-Ed pieces by current and former heads of state, economists, activists, novelists, and other “thought leaders” — has begun marketing its content to the American press.

“We think it’s a good time to bring opinions from all corners of the globe to U.S. newspaper readers,” said Nicolas Chatara-Morse, the syndicate’s Prague-based vice president of development, during a stopover in E&P’s New York City office. “There’s a lot of conflict in the world today.”

Among the American papers interested in Project Syndicate content so far are a number of major dailies, according to Chatara-Morse.

These papers — as well as non-U.S. ones — can choose from a menu of commentaries by political/diplomatic figures such as Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter, Jorge Castaneda, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Vaclav Havel; economists such as Jeffrey Sachs, George Soros, and Joseph Stiglitz; novelists such as Umberto Eco, Nadine Gordimer, and Arundhati Roy; academics such as Nina Khrushcheva, Joseph Nye, and Peter Singer; activists such as Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai; and many others.

The not-for-profit Project Syndicate distributes more than 350 pieces a year, with some of the contributors writing regularly and some occasionally.

Chatara-Morse said one advantage of Project Syndicate pieces is that they’re penned by people native to the nations from which they’re writing — not by correspondents stationed there temporarily. One of the syndicate’s goals is to have ideas that are raised in one country enter the debate in other countries.

None of the opinion articles (which are translated into various languages) are ghostwritten, added Chatara-Morse. But some pieces do get a lot of editing, such as when a long academic paper is transformed into a shorter, newspaper-friendly Op-Ed commentary.

Newspapers in the U.S. — which Chatara-Morse described as a “very competitive” market when it comes to syndication — pay for Project Syndicate content by the article. This differs from the monthly subscription fee paid by non-U.S. papers in the developed world; those revenues help Project Syndicate offer its content free to papers in the developing world.

“We look for quality, independent papers that are not government-owned,” Chatara-Morse said of those developing-world clients.

Papers using content from Project Syndicate (http://www.project-syndicate.org) have a combined circulation of nearly 43 million.

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