Daily Archives: September 28, 2008

10 Myths about Editorial Writing

10 Myths about Editorial Writing

9/28/08

Kenneth Burchfiel

 

  1. Opinion writing is boring. “Editorialists” get to voice their own opinion and speak out about issues that matter to them. Personal feelings and thoughts are not discouraged, but encouraged. Besides, the topics one gets to discuss are usually relevant and important to them.

 

  1. Editorial writers have it easy. Columnists and opinion writers are under more pressure than just about anyone on the paper. The stronger piece they write, the more criticism they will receive. If just one statistic or fact comes out wrong, people will let them know. In addition, groups negatively singled out by a piece will make sure the writer hears their rebuttal.

 

  1. Columns should be written in five-paragraph form. There is no specific form for writing an editorial, though it’s expected of writers to include some sort of opening, persuasive evidence and a fitting conclusion.

 

  1. Opinion pieces don’t need any facts or quotes. If an editorial piece is to gain notice and be taken seriously, it must include factual evidence, whether in the form of statistics or quotes. Without such a base, the piece is nothing but a rant.

 

  1. Writers shouldn’t mention the opposite position. One of the main points of an editorial is to persuade readers with a difference viewpoint to change their mind. Thus, in order to connect with disagreeing readers, editorialists are expected to acknowledge the viewpoint opposing their own—often in the very beginning of the story.

 

  1. Editorials (should) (should not) use first person tense. It depends. If one is writing a column, they are free to use “I” as often as you want. Regular opinion pieces see the usage less often, though first person tense is certainly not prohibited.

 

  1. Everything important should go in the first paragraph. If a writer tries to fit all of their opinion into a one-sentence lead, their piece will read like an academic essay—if it’s even read at all.

 

  1. Editorials have to criticize something. Opinion pieces can be in praise of something, too.

 

  1. It doesn’t take as much work to write a column. On the contrary, developing, organizing, condensing and communicating one’s opinions is one of the hardest things a person can set out an editorial. It’s easy to write a sloppy editorial, but extremely time-consuming to make an opinion piece good.

     

All of the above is correct. This guide is nothing but the opinion of the writer. There is no authoritative guide to writing an opinion piece. In the end, everything is up to the editorialist.

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