The Op-Ed Project at Chicago Ideas Week

A beverage maker.  A roller derby competitor.  A social media maven.  A lawyer.  An artists’ advocate.  An owner of a construction company.  

Each of them and nearly 50 others participated in the Chicago Ideas Week lab, “The OpEd Project’s Loud and Clear: Maximizing  Your Credibility and Influence in The World of Ideas,” on Friday, Oct. 18, at Medill’s Chicago newsroom. The program was sold out in the first few weeks of availability.

During the hour and a half interactive session, Michele Weldon, professor emerita-in-service at Medill and senior leader with The OpEd Project, walked the group through a live experiment in peak credibility, challenges to the word “expert” and a news game that demonstrated how their ideas could be relevant all the time. 

After discussing the lack of inclusion of diverse voices in media, Weldon asked the group, “What is the cost to society if so many voices and minds are missing?” Several expressed a desire to enter into the public conversation with new ideas on topics that are not covered, but did not know how.

“What if we invested in our missing brain power?” Weldon asked.

Using the keynote curriculum from The OpEd Project, a social justice venture founded in 2008 by Katie Orenstein, Weldon walked the participants through a challenge to connect their knowledge, experience and innovative ideas to headlines from the day’s news. 

Medill alum Sara Serritella is managing editor of Chicago Ideas Week, which ran from Oct. 14-20. The city-wide collection of talks, labs and live events featured more than 200 speakers including Elizabeth Smart, Malcolm Gladwell and Donna Karan. The 100 interactive labs in venues across the city provided hands-on experience on topics from 3D printing, map making, brewing and biking to design-thinking with Northwestern University’s Knight Lab at Medill,  held at The McCormick Foundation.