What’s an editorial to begin with? Judging from its name, it is a piece written by an editor. It is close to the truth, but not the whole truth. An editor writes an editorial alone only if he or she is a long-standing expert on the issue, and his or her say is crucial. Usually, an editorial reflects the opinion of the whole editorial board (plus the media outlet owner, our shareholders, or whoever else is involved with funding and managing the news outlet). Opinions and ideas related to a given problem are gathered, and the opinion that wins by the majority of votes is then put to paper.
Editorial as an Opinion Based Document
Thus, the editorial is an opinion piece, it is biased, although this bias is supported by facts and reasoning. For this reason (promoting a certain viewpoint), the editorial is not put among other articles or news. It is put forward with the marking ‘editorial.’ In print editions, when you turn to flip the cover page, the first thing you see (along with the advertisement) is this editorial that takes the first text page.
Its purpose is to persuade and lead people, not just ‘inform’ them. Hence, a well-written editorial can change the balance of power, while a weak editorial will only confuse and repel alert readers. Editorials aim to change the way people think of the issue, highlight previously not discussed points and invite to take action on the matter (even if it means signing a petition or calling your senator).
Editorials are not signed by a single name since they are a creation of a hive mind; usually, you can see words ‘editorial board’ or ‘So and So Publishing Desk’ in place of an author.
All this importance may make writing an editorial look like a dreadful task, but actually, it is like writing an argumentative paper that you can infuse with some bias and personal views, and it will be perfectly fine.
Types Of Editorials According To Their Goal
If you have read several editorials on different topics, you have probably noticed they have something in common. Namely, they perform certain functions. Editorials are typically short, up to 500 words, so this function should be expressed clearly and convincingly. What are these functions (or goals, for that matter)?
- Persuade readers in something. The standpoint is long known, facts are set straight, but it is the reputation and weight of opinion of the editorial desk that can be the last straw. The task of this editorial is to urge people to take some action. It may be agreeing on some point, supporting a candidate, or going to a rally. The solution (action) is known. The editorial pinpoints it and presents it as the only acceptable one.
- Critique and dissection of some problems and offered solutions. Unlike in the previous case, the focus is on the problem or approach taken to it. Budget cuts are painful, and if they can be avoided, but it takes lots of effort, the politicians will select the easiest way out (especially if nobody raises a voice against this solution). Such an editorial will explain why the approach is wrong and how many casualties it will incur (and so the solution will create more problems than before).
Explanation or interpretation of available facts (plus the provision of additional information that may shed new light on the matter). This explanation says why the editorial desk takes a given standpoint and defends it. This editorial is softer in voice and persuasion line since it provides an opinion on some divisive or sensitive points. The focus is on ‘why we do think it is right,’ instead of
- ‘they are doing everything wrong, shame on them.’
- Praise or homage. These editorials are rarer (angry articles are usually more appealing to readers than positive and complimentary J). Yet, they are written, and they usually highlight the exceptional contribution made by a person or an organization to some worthy cause. Here, it is not about money; it is about scholarly dedication, artistic accomplishments, or significant contribution to social causes. So, if you have some worthy topic, write on it as well.
Editorial Structure And Topics
Planning Your Writing
The shape of an editorial text is similar to that of a regular paper. The only ‘but’ is that it should be brief and very fierce and focused.
- The introduction will take only 1-2 sentences;
- A thesis is obligatory; it is the idea you will promote or dismantle, so name it clearly;
- Explanation of your position with evidence;
- One or two arguments an opposite side can present;
- Rebuttal of these arguments;
- Remind of your position (make it stick in the readers’ mind);
- Offer sober and doable solutions or say what needs to be done by your readers;
- Conclusion of 2-3 sentences that repeats your thesis and solution/call to action;
- The last sentence should stand out, whether by virtue of pathos, warning, of an open call to action, or of hopeful prognosis for the future.
Newsmaking In Motion: Searching For Topics
When you set to write an editorial, most probably you already have a topic on your mind. So you only have to wrap it into a proper packaging. But what if this is a task you were given at school?
Where to look for worthy issues to discuss?
- Social networks and media outlets (big newspapers with a long-standing reputation, with clearly stated biases, like the Republicans’ platform, Democrats or the Labour Party news outlet, etc.);
- Twitter/Facebook pages of politicians and public figures;
- Controversial or sharp topics that circulate in the society;
- Issues that plague your life as a community of likely minded people that need immediate reaction and solutions.
Rapid climate change, natural disasters response, sustainable fashion and reduction of consumption, sexual harassment and discrimination, migration problem, reproductive health rights, gun circulation and control, income gap, and many more issues are all over the place waiting for your response. Just pick one.
Pick the topic that you can explain properly and professionally, where you can provide your clear, consolidated opinion. An editorial cannot say ‘both parties are right.’ An editorial says ‘this side is right and this side is wrong because of this, this and this. So we as a board, think that you need to take these steps’. That’s a good editorial in a nutshell.
Collect ideas of the board or a group whose interest the editorial will reflect. Summarize then concisely. You need to find a common idea in the collected material before you will write anything.
Sample Editorial Outline
Now let us walk through the editorial writing process step by step.
- Begin with the introduction. Since a good editorial is brief and up to a point, introduce your topic immediately. Always remember the rule of who, what, when, where, why, and how. These questions will help you write everything down without omitting any useful information. For example: In an effort to contribute to environmental protection, the fashion powerhouses pledged to slow down their production cycles and transition to slow fashion by 2025.
Add facts and numbers (but sparingly). Check the facts and figures you use.
- Proceed with opposing views (i.e., what your opponents say). Name these people/organizations (politely, of course. Name-calling is the last resort). E.g., Certain media outlets and public figures affiliated with huge clothing retailers already criticize the move and ridicule it as a continuation of climate change conspiracy. They operate with twisted facts and biased research to support their viewpoint that fast fashion is beneficial for the economy (or at least, for their pockets). Now refute this opposing view (again, politely, be professional and well mannered). Provide accurate facts and data so that your opponents did not base their counterattack on your inaccuracy. E.g., At the same time, multiple types of research coming from independent institutions with a reputation for data accuracy indicate that fast fashion is the world’s fourth pollution agent that impacts the environment all around the globe without exception. Besides, it contributes to the severe exploitation of workers in countries with weaker legislation regarding human rights.
- Provide your opinion and solution. Use metaphors and punchy phrases to drive your ideas home. E.g., We, as consumers and people partial to advertisement and promotion of fashionable items, are honest and reasonable enough to accept the grim facts about fast fashion and to be ready to slow down our fashion appetites as well. Fashion that produces fewer items and fewer collections but makes clothing great again, from fabric quality to cut, is beneficial to our wallets, our planet, and our well-being. The higher cost of clothing used to be balanced by its durability and usability. Why not return to this good tradition again?
- More analogies and explanations. E.g., We do not invite you to buy luxury items from famous brands – we cannot afford them as well. But there are more and more companies that preach and practice slow fashion and engage local workers in the production cycle, thus reviving the economy, instead of outsourcing everything overseas. We tried buying from them, and it was a great experience and great clothing.
- Conclusion and call to action: So, we invite you to take the path of slow fashion, to pick and cherish vintage items (they are of amazing quality and durability), and not to fall victims to full seasonal changes of wardrobe, buying the new collection and advertisement promising you that this new shirt will make you awesome. You are awesome right now. No clothing can change that. No shoes can change it either. But you can change the world just by buying less. So start this good habit. Now. We are in it all together. And we can make it happen.
When writing, be professional, more or less neutral in language, and do not call your opponents ‘idiots’ openly. There are more subtle ways to convey this idea. Besides, remember that you are writing on behalf of a group, so do not use ‘I.’ Use ‘we’ instead, or write ‘the desk’ or ‘the board’ to denote the speaker.
Our Editorial Afterword
As you see, an editorial can be short but quite weighty in ideas and presentations. We hope that with our help, you will walk this path smoothly and deliver an editorial worthy of the New York Times or The Times. Begin with a good outline, and the rest will happen as if by itself.
If you are still unsure if you can put collected ideas into words successfully, let us do it for you. We have professional editors on board who will do it on the same level as they would do it for a big newspaper. Let us know about the topic and the ideas expressed by the group, or our editors will write everything from scratch. Waste no more time; your great editorial just waits to be born through the assistance and talent of our writers!