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Journalistic Writing

EDITORIAL WRITING:WRITING AN EDITORIAL:STRUCTURING AN EDITORIAL

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Journalistic Writing ­ MCM310
VU
LECTURE 36
EDITORIAL WRITING
An editorial is an article that states the newspaper's ideas on an issue. These ideas are presented as opinion.
Editorials are meant to influence public opinion, promote critical thinking, and sometimes cause people to take
action on an issue. In essence, an editorial is an opinionated news story.
According to Webster's Dictionary an editorial is "an article in a publication expressing the opinion of its
publishers or editors."
Editorials appear on the newspaper's editorial page, a page which includes editorials, columns, opinion
articles, reviews and cartoons. If the paper contains more than one opinion page, the others are called op-ed
pages. Another important item that appears on the newspaper's editorial page is the masthead, also known as
a staff box, which includes a statement providing the details of publication.
Since a newspaper is not a living, breathing human being, it cannot form these ideas or opinions. However, the
editorial board is made up of living, breathing human beings who determine, hopefully by consensus, the
opinions that will be presented in the editorial. The editorial board is a group of people, usually the top
editors, who decide on a plan for each editorial that will appear in a newspaper. Please note that eeditorials are
not written by the regular reporters of the news organization, in fact, most major newspapers have a strict
policy of keeping "editorial" and "news" staffs separate. That's why editorials are written without any byline.
Most editorial pieces take the form of an essay or thesis, using arguments to promote a point of view.
Requirements for article length varies according to each publication's guidelines, as do a number of other
factors such as style and topic. An average editorial is 750 words or less. But this length can vary depending
upon the need and requirement.
WHAT SHOULD AN EDITORIAL DO?
· Criticize or attack: If they criticize, they require suggestions for change. If you launch an attack against
something, you must be impeccable in your charge. An attack is forceful; criticism does not have to be
forceful, but it has to be held down with facts and suggestions for change.
· Defend: Stand up for an individual or an institution that is under attack by society.
· Endorse: But you must give solid reasons for your endorsement of a political candidate, an issue, or the
reasons behind building a new gymnasium.
· Compliment: Show evidence that the compliment is deserved. Do praise when warranted.
· Instigate, advocate or appeal: To instigate editorially would mean that the newspaper intended to go on a
crusade for something--improvements in the school study hall system, for example. Or you might advocate
that this be accomplished by backing suggestions put out by a school committee that studied the problem.
An appeal editorial might mean that you'd encourage people to donate to a school fund drive or vote for a
tax levy increase.
· Entertain: An entertaining editorial is good for the reader's soul, but it should have a worthwhile point and
should be written about something worth the reader's time.
· Predict: Support your predictions with fact.
G. SMITH 1997. IS THE ROLE OF A NEWSPAPER EDITORIAL TO ...?
·  act as a voice for the ruling class,
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Journalistic Writing ­ MCM310
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·  advocate for the rights of individuals
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be strictly accurate,
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bring down a government,
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criticize government policies,
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fight for the freedom of the press,
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indicate preferred foreign policy directions,
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nurture enlightened values,
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preach,
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set a high tone for debate,
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suppress important facts,
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Promote critical thinking?
QUALITIES OF A GOOD EDITORIAL:
1. Clarity
Precise conveyance of ideas
2. Colour
Using words that evoke images
3. Concreteness
Being specific
4. Economy
Making every word count
5. Tone
The general impression of the writing
6. Tempo
The pace (how the writing moves- fluency)
7. Variety
Vary word choice, sentences, length, and sentence structure
WRITING AN EDITORIAL:
The writing process:
1. Invention: choose an issue
Your editorial could be about how the readers could help the environment, inform the public about a particular
endangered species, praise an effort by a group who has helped to take an endangered animal off of the
endangered species list, or any other idea that can be used as an editorial.
2. Collection: gather support
Gather as many details to convince others about your opinion. (Facts or evidence, written statements from
sources or authorities in the subject (experts), comparisons to similar situations to support your argument,
pictures or images that strengthen your argument, be able to counter argue your opponents on this issue.)
3. Organization: stretch from straight forward opening to closing
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4. Drafting: write the first draft
Body should have clear and accurate details and examples. Give strong arguments in beginning of editorial and
at the end. Show the opposing arguments and their weaknesses. Offer a solution at the end. Do not be wishy
washy. Stick to your argument or opinion.
5. Revising: get it right
Your editorial should be clear and forceful. Avoid attacking others, do not preach, paragraphs should be brief
and direct. Give examples and illustrations. Be honest and accurate. Don't be too dramatic.
6. Proofreading: check the language
Check content, format and mechanics
STRUCTURING AN EDITORIAL:
Whatever type of editorial you write, it must be built around a logical framework. It must have a/an:
· Introduction: To get the reader's attention
· Body: To persuade the reader
· Conclusion: To prompt the reader into action
An effective formula for editorial writing is SPECS.
State the problem or situation;
Position on the problem;
Evidence to support the position;
Conclusions: Who's affected and how; state and refute the position of the other side
Solutions to the problem: At least two.
DO'S AND DON'TS OF EDITORIAL WRITING
Do's:
·  Change abstractions into living examples
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highlight emotional hooks - a warm positive tone is essential
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soften criticism; never divide your readership
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speak as the voice of the whole community
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tie the editorial to a news item or current issue of public concern
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show a local flavour; local loyalties and interests relate to readers
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beware legal challenges over reputations
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avoid a preachy tone and rhetorical flourishes
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convert statistics into factions
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simplify grammar and vocabulary
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limit questions to a minimum; your task is to offer answers
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Clarify your point of view before beginning; state a Headline.
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establish your authority, credibility
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Simplify expressions; talk plainly.
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focus on three points only
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Avoid language knots: in which, through which.., of which...
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Avoid lists; avoid "First, second ..." etc.
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Avoid need to cross reference: not "as was said above." name it again.
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·  Avoid dialogue. It is not a novel.
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avoid "I you me" pronouns; use a plural voice = the community
Don'ts:
What NOT to put in your editorial
·  the singular pronoun "I"
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falsehoods, suppositions, exaggerations
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libel and defamation
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advocate anything illegal
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long paragraphs
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subheadings
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difficult, technical words
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grammatical knots, confused writing
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questions to finish
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forget to devise and include a headline
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ignore the obvious a
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Vague ambiguous references, the unattached "It".
Source: http://home.pacific.net.au
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Table of Contents:
  1. INTRODUCTION TO JOURNALISTIC WRITING:Practical, THINGS TO KNOW
  2. QUALITIES OF GOOD WRITERS
  3. QUALITIES OF GOOD WRITERS
  4. QUALITIES OF GOOD WRITING:Achieve appropriate readability:
  5. QUALITIES OF GOOD WRITING:Be concise, Be creative, Be correct
  6. THE PROCESS OF WRITING:INVENTION, WHEN YOU START TO WRITE
  7. THE PROCESS OF WRITING II:ORGANIZING, DRAFTING, REVISING
  8. ALL ABOUT WORDS:HOW WORDS ARE FORMED?:SUFFIXES
  9. DICTIONARY-A WRITER’S LANGUAGE TOOL:KINDS OF INFORMATION
  10. PARTS OF SPEECH:Noun Gender, Noun Plurals, Countable Nouns
  11. BASIC CLAUSE PATTERNS
  12. ACTIVE AND PASSSIVE VOICE
  13. MODIFIERS AND SENTENCE TYPES:COMPOUND SENTENCES
  14. REPORTED SPEECH:Indirect Questions, Direct commands
  15. GRAMMATICAL SENTENCE – ISSUES:SUBJECT-VERB AGREEMENT
  16. GRAMMATICAL SENTENCE – ISSUES II:SENTENCE FRAGMENTS
  17. EFFECTIVE SENTENCE:PARALLELISM, NEEDED WORDS, SHIFTS
  18. STYLE: GUIDELINE AND PITFALLS I:COLLOQUIAL VS FORMAL, CIRCUMLOCUTION
  19. STYLE: GUIDELINE AND PITFALLS II:AMBIGUITY, REDUNDANCY, EUPHEMISM:
  20. PARAGRAPH WRITING: TYPES AND TECHNIQUES:STRUCTURE
  21. PARAGRAPH WRITING: TYPES AND TECHNIQUES:Putting on Our Play
  22. ESSAY WRITING:VARIOUS STRATEGIES FOR ESSAYS, PROMPTS
  23. SIGNAL WORDS:Non word Emphasis Signals
  24. EXPOSITORY WRITING:LOGICAL FALLACIES, APPEAL TO EMOTION
  25. THE WRITING STYLES: REPORT and NARRATIVE WRITING, SHORT REPORTS
  26. THE WRITING STYLES: DESCRIPTIVE AND PERSUASIVE WRITINGS, Observation
  27. RESEARCH WRITING AND DOCUMNETING SOURCES:Handling Long Quotations
  28. Summary and Précis Writing:CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD SUMMARY
  29. Punctuation:THE PERIOD, THE COMMA, THE SEMICOLON, THE COLON
  30. MECHANICS:ABBREVIATIONS, NUMBERS, SPELLING, THE HYPHEN
  31. READING SKILLS FOR WRITERS:EDUCATED READING, STEPS
  32. PARTS OF A NEWSPAPER:Box-out, By-line, Caption, Exclusive, Feature
  33. THE LANGUAGE OF THE NEWSPAPERS II:BROADSHEET NEWSPAPER
  34. News Writing and Style I:WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A NEWSPAPER
  35. NEWS WRITING II:Accuracy, Clarity, Style, Qualities of Effective Leads
  36. EDITORIAL WRITING:WRITING AN EDITORIAL:STRUCTURING AN EDITORIAL
  37. WRITING FEATURES:GENERATING FEATURE STORY IDEAS
  38. WRITING COLUMNS:Column and a news report, Purpose, Audience
  39. WRITING ARTICLES FOR NEWSPAPERS:The Heading, The Lead
  40. WRITING ANALYSIS:purpose, scope, method, results, recommendations
  41. LETTERS TO EDITORS:Four important aspects about letters, Organizing letters
  42. BROADCAST AND WEB NEWS WRITING:WRITE CONCISELY, BROADCAST STYLE
  43. WRITING PRESS RELEASE, REVIEWS AND OBITUARIES:Summary of Content:
  44. THE ART OF INTERVIEWINGS
  45. FINAL THOUGHTS:Practical, Job-Related, Social, Stimulating, Therapeutic