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Writing Editorials

An editorial:

  • is a statement of informed opinion. An editorial combines strong, clear opinion with in-depth knowledge of all sides of a subject. Research is essential. Opinion dominates in the finished piece, but it should rest on solid, accurate information and broad knowledge.
  • should shed new light on a subject or emphasize updated important arguments in order to be convincing and powerful. As you choose the subject of your editorial, consider what fresh insights you may have to offer.
  • need not represent an extreme side of an issue. Middle-of-the-road or qualified positions are often the most interesting. They must be clearly and precisely laid out, and presented in convincing language that shows your confidence in your views.
  • addresses a subject that is focused and well defined. “Education” is too broad a subject; you will make a better case if you look at one aspect of that broader subject such as “merit pay for teachers,” “school uniforms in DeKalb county elementary schools,” or “the value of statewide testing.”
  • presents the strongest arguments in favor of the position taken, but it must also address some of the opposing arguments in order to dismantle or refute them. If a writer leaves key counter-arguments out of the piece, readers will find the editorial flimsy and easy to pick apart.
  • usually builds to its strongest arguments, often following a structure similar to the one outlined below:
    • Introduction of the problem by the end of the first paragraph or beginning of the second
    • Proposal of a solution or new way of thinking about the problem
    • Statement of arguments in favor of position and refutation of key arguments against the position
    • Arguments presented in ascending order of importance or strength
    • Memorable last sentence or paragraph restating the main opinion
  • Should avoid charged language or fallacious arguments. It not only weakens the case but can also distract readers or scare them away.
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