Sunday, February 28, 2010

LDS Branch 3: E-lecture on Writing an Editorial


Welcome to the Online Workshop on Writing an Editorial for a Church newsletter.
I hope you learned a lot from the brief traditional workshop on News writing we conducted on Feb. 27.


Apart from news and features, a newsletter may be published with opinion pieces.

In a local church, two things might be practical: 1) a personal column to explain/elaborate/clarify/ core events and issues in the community or to convince the readers about a specific point of view.

2) the editorial, as the official position of the publication (Read: Collective, not personal opinion) on any particular issue/event; has at least four types:

1. Editorial that explains or interprets
2. Editorial that criticizes
3. Editorial that praises
4. Editorial that persuades.

What are parts of an editorial?
Alan Weintraut, an online tutor, suggests the following:
1. Introduction, body and conclusion like other news stories
2. An objective explanation of the issue, especially complex issues
3. A timely news angle
4. Opinions from the opposing viewpoint that refute directly the same issues the writer addresses
5. The opinions of the writer delivered in a professional manner. Good editorials engage issues, not personalities and refrain from name-calling or other petty tactics of persuasion.
6. Alternative solutions to the problem or issue being criticized. Anyone can gripe about a problem, but a good editorial should take a pro-active approach to making the situation better by using constructive criticism and giving solutions.
7. A solid and concise conclusion that powerfully summarizes the writer's opinion. Give it some punch.

We may follow these parts every time we write an editorial. We must, however, check if it applies to our particular type of editorial.

We must remember, however, that the editorial should reflect the position of the publication, not just that of the editor in chief or other staffers.

Some tips to ensure its a collective position:

The editor may float topics for the editorial of an issue/release.
If one issue/topic dominates, then he/she should start discussing about it and solicit the opinion of the others.
One person might be able to pen down the editorial based on the position reached in the discussion.
If there is time, a draft should be checked by at least three other members to see if the positions raised by the others are reflected.

Again, this depends on any specific work flow in each publication.

Weintraut adds the following steps:

1. Pick a significant topic that has a current news angle and would interest readers.
2. Collect information and facts; include objective reporting; do research
3. State your opinion briefly in the fashion of a thesis statement (WIB: "Example, Internet cafes must disallow students to play online games during school hours.")
4. Explain the issue objectively as a reporter would and tell why this situation is important
5. Give opposing viewpoint first with its quotations and facts
6. Refute (reject) the other side and develop your case using facts, details, figures, quotations. Pick apart the other side's logic.
7. Concede a point of the opposition — they must have some good points you can acknowledge that would make you look rational.
8. Repeat key phrases to reinforce an idea into the reader's minds.
9. Give a realistic solution(s) to the problem that goes beyond common knowledge. Encourage critical thinking and pro-active reaction.
10. Wrap it up in a concluding punch that restates your opening remark (thesis statement).
11. Keep it to 500 words; make every work count; never use "I"

Have you thought of particular examples that could be subject for an editorial?

The details in writing an editorial applies to all types of opinion writing. However, we are allowed to use "I" in our columns.

One last reminder: The personal column and the editorial might be based on opinion, BUT it should be backed with facts, too. One cannot just bark about anything. It has be be logical and factual. END

Editorial Writing Tutor

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    Post questions and comments here.
    I will react t your questions as well.
    You will post your writing exercise output in another thread.