No opinion piece follows a set formula. Editorials take many forms. THERE IS NO ONE FORMULA. * Editorials and the opinion pages


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Page 1: Editorials

No opinion piece follows a set formula. Editorials take many forms. THERE IS NO ONE FORMULA.

*Editorials and the opinion pages

Page 2: Editorials

*It all started…

*At Baylor University, an editorial ran in support of gay marriage, which upset the faculty and staff at one of the largest Baptist universities in the world.

*The university president said the paper was “out of touch” and “dangerously close to violating university policy.”


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*Editorials*A good opinion section is a virtual town square for your

college community.

*Therefore, your comments must be supported by facts and illustrative examples.

*Your opinion, per se, is worth no more than mine, but if you can back it up with facts and examples to support your point, you have made a strong, impressive statement.

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*Sparkling, appealing language should be part of critical opinions. Keep in mind that the editorial page is often one of the least read sections of the newspaper but it could be the most popular.

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*A true but DULL editorial is like a tree falling the forest. No one sees or hears it go.

*One of the greatest weaknesses in an editorial is that the writer gets the facts straight but presents them in such a boring manner that no one wants to read the information.

*Coin captivating new phrases. Vary your sentences. Use analogies, showing that “this” is like “that.

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*Sections of editorials

*The classic opinion section comes in two parts:

*The editorial page

*The op-editorial (opposite editorial) or commentary page.

*These are often on facing pages or a single page

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*Guidelines for columnists

*The writer may smear and praise in a single piece – and perhaps most often should.

*Few works are entirely good or entirely bad.

*A lack of balance in criticism is a major flaw. REMEMBER THAT!

*An opinion piece must be tied together. Ideally, your writing should consist of sentences and paragraphs that are so smooth the reader has a distinct, if subconscious, experience of following a connected line from the first sentence to the last.

*This unity is often the result of REWRITING.

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*Guidelines for columnists*For editorials especially, you need good research habits.

You cannot, nor will you be expected to, be carrying around in your head or pocket all of the info you need to write an opinion piece on a topic: communism in Europe, abortion, etc.

* You must know where to go for info and then you must literally and physically go to those sources and dig out the info you need and then use that info in a cleverly written article.

*You must always be open to an idea which will stimulate you to write a column. It may come from a news story, a handout, a comment you hear at Walmart, wherever. You do not get opinion pieces assigned, usually.

*It is far more interesting to write about things that interest you than to have to dig out facts on topics about which you know nothing and care even less.

*You must be a good reporter before you can be a good columnist

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*Categories of columnists* Sometimes, you will combine two or more in one piece but you need to know and be able to

write in each of these:

*Informative editorial: dissects events. May explain implications of a bill recently passed by Congress in a more logical* manner than a regular news story can.

* Provides more explanation than a regular news story

*Interpretive editorial: explains things of complex circumstances and often makes use of comparisons and analogies

*Persuasive editorials: The writer wants the reader to do something (support or oppose a particular candidate.) The writer is seeking to encourage the reader to contribute to the city’s United Fund drive or oppose the Sun Rail station.

*Humorous editorial: poking fun at a particular group, individual or idea. Often, humor is most effective when it is topical and when exaggeration is used. The object of many humorous editorials is to entertain rather than to inform.

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*More about editorials

*The editorial you read in newspapers and magazines is usually a reflection of management’s attitude rather than the reporter’s or the editor’s personal view. That is why editorials are unsigned and “we” is used.

*The editorial page is a management soapbox.

*This is the difference between editorials and columns or critical review.

*The columnist or the critic or essayist is clearly identified and authorized to make personal statements and evaluations which are then attributed directly back to him or her.

*Again, there is no formula. Rather, the subject matter dictates the literary form.

*But for beginning editorial writers, here is a form to use to get started.

*Remember, this is like learning to dance. Once you get the basic step, you can then improvise and develop your own personal style.

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*How do we get more letters to

the editor?

*We have to reach out and show we are listening to our readers by putting up posters and fliers telling students they can write to us and tell us what they think.

*We can also provide provocative content that will PISS PEOPLE OFF!

*It’s no wonder we have not received one letter to the editor. For the most part, the stories have been dull and dry. Come on, people! You’re in college! You’re supposed to be shaking things up! You have more freedom now than you will EVER have in the real world.

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*When writing an editorial…

*1. The opening paragraph should state the problem or situation and outline the position you are taking.

*2-3 The next few paragraphs should present arguments, illustration, examples, evidence and other support for your position.

*3-5 The succeeding paragraphs should present the major arguments or evidence counter to your stand. (this provides balance and can contrast your strong points with opposing points or issues. Also, you can refute or attack these points.)

*5-? The concluding paragraphs should reemphasize the stance you took in the beginning, but make certain you use different words and different phrasing in this last paragraph. Don’t simply rewrite what you said in the opening paragraph.

*This method is most effective when you are trying to PERSUADE your readers to a particular point of view!

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*1 – intro and your stance

*2 – arguments supporting your position

*3 – arguments in opposition to your position and your refutation of them

*4 – reaffirm stand in your opening paragraph

*Or, even simpler, you have a lede, the body of your article, and a clincher.

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*The lede

*The lede uses one of more opening sentences to make an explicit statement:

*“Abortion should not be prohibited in Florida. This is an infringement on every woman’s right who lives in the state.”

*OR – “abortion should be prohibited in Florida. The state has no right to legalize murder.”

*Your lede should be short, crisp and to the point!

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*The body

*The body of your editorial should present all pertinent facts, persuasive language and logical arguments.

*Make use of options, alternatives or solutions, especially if you are seeking a shift in attitudes.

*Hard facts are essential to support your idea.

*A popular technique is to start with the least desirable of options and end with the one you believe is most acceptable and reasonable.

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*This is your inevitable conclusion.

*It should be carefully composed, and it should be one that will be logically drawn from your readers.

*You are putting into the clincher what you hope your readers have already deduced.

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*Last words

*Remember to make your topic compelling.

*The reader must read what you have written.

*Short, tight paragraphs and bright, concise writing will help immeasurably.

*No one is going to take the time to read long, grey columns of type, not even your relatives.

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*Last words (continued)

*We should sponsor a competition for the best editorial cartoon and offer the winner a regular spot in the newspaper.

*We should solicit submissions from leaders of campus groups, faculty members, administrators and other prominent people on campus.