Editorial writing

Editorials represent the opinion of the Northern Star’s editorial board on a particular issue. Generally they should relate to a news story. Here are a few types of editorials:

  1. Interpretative or explanatory
  2. Critical or persuasive
  3. Appreciative or praise-giving
  4. Entertaining or humorous

Organizing it

  1. Select the topic and be sure it is specific, timely and of interest to readers.
  2. Have a purpose in mind. What are you going to tell people to do or think?
  3. Be sure you fully understand your topic. Research with reliable information.
  4. Has the Star run a news story about this topic? If not, why are we editorializing before we are reporting the news?
  5. Have we editorialized about this topic before? If so, how will this editorial be different?

Writing it

  1. State an opinion in the first sentence. Editorials have leads, just like news stories. They tell readers where you’re headed. Keep the lead short and concise.
  2. Develop the body using facts — build a strong case. Don’t use more details from the news story than needed to build your case. Get in and get out.
  3. Document quotes and sources, just as you would in a news story.
  4. Avoid a preachy tone. Criticism should be constructive and offer a solution.
  5. Remember the best way to win an argument is to lay out the opposing argument, then shoot holes in it. Tell why your solution is better.
  6. Anticipate questions and objections to your argument. Answer them.
  7. Write in third-person voice. Don’t say “We think…”
  8. Remember, short editorials usually are more effective than long ones. Readers stay interested.
  9. Suggest a solution, or an action, in the final sentence. If you’re telling people to take action, tell them how. For instance, if you tell readers to write their congress person, give the address. Don’t make them go look iti up. They won’t
  10. Don’t neglect the headline. Think of it as an important part of your editorial. It is.

Other tips

Never wrote an editorial without research. You might write one in anger once in a while, but don’t run it without letting your angler cool, them reviewing what your wrote.

Have an early enough deadline for editorials that there’s sufficient time for another editor to review what you wrote. Last-minute, hurried editorials tend to be the weakest.

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