Are you opinionated and outspoken? Have you grown tired of scanning the Op-Ed pages of major newspapers and thinking to yourself, “Man, I could write better than this clown”? Do you have a secret yearning to appear on a reality TV competition?
If so, the Washington Post is looking for you.
The D.C. paper just launched a contest called “America’s Next Great Pundit.” The grand prize? A three-month contract with the Post, during which the winner will pen his or her very own opinion column. But before anyone can claim that reward, they’ll be subjected to some Survivor-style tests, with a journalistic twist:
Beginning on or about Oct. 18, our finalists will face off in challenges that test the skills a modern pundit must possess. They’ll have to write on deadline, hold their own on video and take questions — and criticism — from Post readers. (Contestants won’t have to quit their day jobs, but they should be prepared to put in about eight hours of work a week for two weeks.) After each round, a panel of Post personalities will offer kudos and catcalls, and reader votes will help to determine who gets another chance at a byline and who has to shut down their laptops.
It should be noted that this is “Season 2” of the paper’s Pundit contest. The competition’s first winner, Kevin Huffman, is the executive vice president for public affairs at Teach for America; he published a weekly column in the Post from December 2009 through February 2010. As Michael Triplett wrote in Mediaite last year, Huffman beat out around 4,800 other applicants to claim his prize—including runner-up Zeba Khan, a Muslim woman who would have added some much-needed diversity to the Post‘s Op-Ed page had she won.
Wannabe pundits can submit 400-word opinion essays, along with 100-word paragraphs about why they should be America’s Next Top Pundit Idol, using this online entry form. After the October 1 entry deadline, Post bigwigs will narrow the field down to 50 semi-finalists. Readers will then help the paper choose a final 10 contestants, though the contest’s description doesn’t how exactly this step will work.
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