One more trip down memory lane...destination? Editorials

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Presume that your opponent has good reason for disagreeing with you. Talk to people on the other side, and include some of their eloquent, well-argued points.


When I was working for my high school paper, we were required to write a column for every issue of The Royal, but that didn't mean that every column made it in the paper. Working as the copy editor gave me the opportunity to read about a lot of students' opinions, even the ones that didn't make it in the paper. I always enjoyed writing columns. During my senior year, I think I had a column in every issue of the paper. My old journalism teacher always warned us against using our columns as a way to rant. There were times when my columns were fueled by some other conflict that was going through my life, but ironically, I produced some of my best columns from those conflicts. Okay, now that I got my little reminiscence of the good ol' days out of the way, I have two real points to make:

One--Including quotes in an editorial. This was something I never learned in high school. I haven't read a lot of professional columns (I know, I'm a crappy aspiring journalist, but whatever), so I can't say how often I've seen quotes from the general public in columns. We were always told to include facts to back up our claims, but we were never encouraged to interview students. Usually instead of including quotes in the main paper editorial, we included a "speak-out" section, where we would include as many quotes from the student body as we could in the alloted space.

Two--Include the opposing view from your argument. I can't say whether or not I've ever done this either. I can definitely see the importance in this--you have to be able to argue your point form all sides, otherwise, it'll seem just like another rant from some crazy journalist. Although I didn't always include all views of an argument, I did try to always include some suggestions for improving whatever issue I'm complaining about.

My conclusion: Editorials are tough (duh), but a lot of fun to work with. You get a lot of freedom that isn't available in a news piece. With the inclusion of quotes, it's more similar to news than I'd ever realized, but it's nice that you can use quotes to strengthen your point in a chosen column.

4 Comments

Jeesie, you can also include paraphrases instead of quotes. The direct quotes might interrupt the flow of your editorial, especially because journalists develop the habit of including quotes to attract attention.

Michelle Tantlinger said:


I really like the idea of mentioning the opposing viewpoint and you wisely point out, “otherwise, it'll seem just like another rant from some crazy journalist.” And I think the readers of news see it this way when an editorial is not done well. Journalists have a lot more power than the average person. They can expose millions of people to their ideas and they have the ability to sway the masses. As Uncle Ben tells Peter Parker, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” That responsibility is sometimes lacking in journalists when they only “rant” to a reader rather than inform them.

Jessie Author Profile Page said:

Thanks for the tip Dr. Jerz. I agree that direct quotes would interrupt the flow of an editorial, mostly because when I write my editorials, they're in my voice and not my peers' voices. If I included direct quotes, I think it would throw off my argument, mostly because the flow would be cut off momentarily.

Jessie Author Profile Page said:

Michelle--Good allusion to Spiderman (he's my favorite superhero). After reading your comment, I immediately thought of the Tribune Review. It's so biased. I don't think they ever show both sides of the argument in their editorials. They just praise who they support and bash everyone else. So, good point with the responsibility bit--I think the Trib abuses those privileges a little bit. I guess it's more common that we'd like to admit... What do you think?

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