If you have been asked to write an editorial piece for a major newspaper or magazine, it’s a definite sign that your career is looking up. For any journalist or writer, being asked to write an editorial is a matter of great privilege and honor. As opposed to regular news reports, an editorial is more about opinions than facts. It is meant to express a specific opinion about a current piece of news. This may involve attacking or defending certain policies or laws based on hard facts, statistics, analogies etc. Refresh your writing skills by signing up for this free course on becoming a writer.
Here are a few things you should consider while working on your editorial piece:
1. Choose your topic wisely
For maximum impact, choose an issue that has been making the headlines recently. For instance, if the Presidential elections are around the corner, focus on a particular political topic. Additionally, be very specific about the issue you wish to focus on. You might have a lot to say about a dozen issues, but save your knowledge for later. Narrow down your area of interest with as much precision as is possible. Learn how to Write Less and Say More by taking this course.
2. Declare your agenda outright
An editorial without an unequivocal opinion is bound to fall flat on its face. Right at the very beginning, define your agenda in clear terms. Make sure that you state your opinion or thesis coherently. Remember those research papers and thesis statements you wrote in college. It’s time to refresh your memory and concentrate on thesis statement writing skills. This course on how to write a thesis should help you immensely. The essential structure of a thesis statement in an editorial remains the same, only the language is more informal and journalistic.
3. Build your argument
A good editorial expresses your point of view while a great one manages to persuade others to join your camp. In order to persuade people, you need to have a sound argument based on facts and analogies, not vitriol and diatribe. Once you have stated your thesis, acknowledge contradictory opinions and explain why you disagree with them. Feel free to use facts, statistics, quotations and theoretical explanations for criticizing your opponents’ views. Rejecting them outright without any explanation screams of cowardice and unprofessional ethics.
To build a foolproof argument, you will need to achieve a balance between content and style. Not only will you need substantial data, you will also need to structure it coherently. Take this course to learn the basics of writing with writing with precision and clarity.
4. Strengthen your argument with analogies
Nothing disarms your opponents better than cultural, social or political analogies. For instance, if you are writing about a controversial issue like secret surveillance, look for similar instances in other countries and how they tackled the problem. You can use such an analogy to your benefit by highlighting both the similarities and the differences. This will also be a good time to speak about the ultimate consequences of a policy/law if appropriate action is not taken by concerned agencies.
5. Provide possible solutions
So, you have made a case for your views and demolished your opponents’ claims. The journey doesn’t end here. An editorial is primarily meant to indulge in constructive criticism i.e. even though it critiques one point of view, it must be able to provide a possible alternative. Say, your editorial attacked the efficacy of steps taken by the government to curb domestic violence in a particular region, conclude your piece by discussing other viable options. Once again, build an argument and talk about why these proposed steps are better than the ones already in place. Don’t mistake an editorial for an opportunity to indulge in mindless criticism; instead, use it to offer a better vision for the future.
If you have any other tips, please share in the comments sections below!