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Writing Editorials and Columns

What is an Editorial?
An Editorial is usually written by the editor or one of the writers on his or her behalf and it represents the views of the newspaper.


Also in editorial section, you will find other people’s opinions on the same subject or others. They are known as columns.

Editorial stories have:

  1. Introduction, body, solution and conclusion like other news stories.
  2. An objective explanation of the issue, especially complex issues.
  3. A timely news angle.
  4. Opinions from the opposing viewpoint that refute directly the same issues the writer addresses.
  5. Good editorials engage issues, not personalities and refrain from name-calling or other petty tactics of persuasion.
  6. Alternative solutions to the problem or issue being criticized. Anyone can gripe about a problem, but a good editorial should take a proactive approach to making the situation better by using constructive criticism and giving solutions.
  7. A solid and concise conclusion that powerfully summarizes the writer's opinion. Give it some punch.

Four Types of Editorials

  1. Editorials of argument and persuasion take a firm stand on a problem or condition. They attempt to persuade the reader to think the same way. This editorial often proposes a solution or advises taking some definite action.

  2. Editorials of informaiton and interpretation attempt to explain the meaning or significance of a situation or news event. There is a wide variety of editorials in this category, ranging from those which provide background information to those which identify issues.

  3. Editorials of tribute, appreciation or commendation praise a person or an activity.

  4. Editorials of entertainment have two categories. One is the short humourous treatment of a light topic. The second is a slightly satirical treatment of a serious subject. (Satire is the use of sarcasm or keen wit to denounce abuses or follies. While it ridicules or makes fun of a subject with the intent of improving it.)

Structure of an Editorial

Editorials are written according to a well-established formula.

  1. Introduction - state the problem
  2. Body - expresses an opinion
  3. Solution - offers a solution to the problem
  4. Conclusion - emphasizes the main issue

Here are some additional tips on structuring your opinion story.

  1. Lead with an Objective Explanation of the Issue/Controversy. Include the five W's and the H. Pull in facts and quotations from sources which are relevant.

  2. Present Your Opposition First. As the writer you disagree with these viewpoints. Identify the people (specifically who oppose you). Use facts and quotations to state objectively their opinions. Give a strong position of the opposition. You gain nothing in refuting a weak position.

  3. Directly Refute The Opposition's Beliefs. You can begin your article with transition. Pull in other facts and quotations from people who support your position. Concede a valid point of the opposition which will make you appear rational, one who has considered all the options.

  4. Give Other, Original Reasons/Analogies. In defense of your position, give reasons from strong to strongest order. Use a literary or cultural allusion that lends to your credibility and perceived intelligence.

  5. Conclude With Some Punch.Give solutions to the problem or challenge the reader to be informed.

    A quotation can be effective, especially if from a respected source. A rhetorical question can be an effective concluder as well. While it ridicules or makes fun of a subject with the intent of improving it.


How to write an opinion piece

Think of an opinion piece as a persuasive essay: the writer has an opinion or a point of view on an issue and he or she wants to convince the reader to agree. This is not as easy as it may seem.

  • You must research your topic and find out what’s happening and what went on in the past.
  • You must know the facts and be able to refer to them in your argument.

Pretend you are a lawyer and you are making a case before a jury. You will want to convince the members of the jury to believe that your client is right . Therefore you need to present as much evidence as you can that proves the point.

You can do the same when you write a column or editorial. Here’s an example:

Let’s say you want to write an editorial supporting capital punishment. You want to convince your readers that someone who commits murder should receive a death sentence.

The first thing you have to do is start collecting the facts.

  • When did Canada put an end to capital punishment? What were the arguments used to do that?
  • When did people start talking about re-introducing the death penalty?
  • What cases have prompted debate on this issue? What examples can they find to support their argument for capital punishment?

You must also consider the other side of the argument.

  • What would people who oppose the death penalty say?
  • How would they respond to their points?

  1. start with a basic premise or theme.
  2. use facts and details to back up your opinion and help you make your case.
  3. Leave your readers with a lasting impression -- a strong point that will make them consider your point of view.
  4. Don’t need to preach to the reader. A good editorial will make readers take notice of the situation and form their own opinions on the issue.

Story Topics

The possible topics for editorials and columns are almost endless because everyone has an opinion on everything! They could include:

  • legal or political issues such as gun control or Canada’s economy, minority rights or international politics.
  • issues facing people in your own community — such as a decision to demolish a historic building or the controversy surrounding a new law against skateboarding.

LOOK through stories in your daily paper or in monthly editions of SNN.

Form your own opinions. Opinions are based on what you have read and what you already know or believe.

Then you can put those views down in an editorial or column of your own!



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