Be Careful What You Wish For
From Dr. Jerz’s “Editorials”:
“Whine, whine, whine! Anybody can churn out a list of complaints against topic X. It's another thing entirely to come up with a solution, and then make a public statement in its favor.”
Editorials move us closer to my comfort-zone. They seem very much like a mini-academic essay to me. In fact, I am going to make a list of the similarities:
The list could probably continue too. There are many similarities between the two. You don’t have to avoid subjective language quite so much, which is certainly a difference from other news writing.
However, there are key differences as well. For one thing, you have a lot less space to work with, which could provide some very real challenges. Sorting through the data and points you have and prioritizing which are the most important and compelling can be tough. In such cases, it makes it tempting to avoid what the other side might think. It is very important not to do this though. As soon as you omit rational references to the other side (if another “side” truly exists, pardon my digression, but linguistics is invading my mind. The author of our linguistics textbook, Hayakawa, suggests that most things in life do not have two sides, but many. Things usually are not clearly right or wrong, but exist in shades of gray. This is all the more reason why we should not overlook or write off the other “side” too quickly. Chances are, the other “side” is not completely wrong or bad and could have some merit to it, if we manage to shuffle off our presentiments and realize this), it will appear as if you have close-mindedly ignored all other possibilities. You need to show your readers that you have considered other alternatives. So despite space constraints, don’t eliminate your dealings of opposing arguments. Also related to this space issue, is paragraph size. As Dr. Jerz mentions in his explanation, it is important to keep paragraphs short, or the reader will get discouraged and bored and stop reading.
The other significant difference between editorials and academic essay writing which I wish to mention is the scope of the two. Yes, it is possible that if you write an academic research essay and it gets published at some point it could have a far-reaching impact. Nonetheless, it is far more likely that a common person will read an editorial, than an essay. Therefore, we should be extra mindful of what we write. The audience who reads it (whether they agree or disagree with what you wrote) could be incited/moved to action because of it. This could be a good way to cause reform when change is necessary, but at the same time, you need to be aware of the effects what you’re writing could have. The people reading your opinions are not academics sitting peacefully in their offices that will carefully reflect and consider before acting. While these people may also read a published editorial, other less discerning people will also read it, and they may not be so hesitant to act/respond without careful meditation. People could take you up on that “solution” you suggested, whether you truly intended them to or not. People may listen, so be careful what you wish/write for.
Read more about editorials.