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Editorials columns and letters

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Tips for grabbing readers for the opinion section in your student newspaper.

Text of Editorials columns and letters

  • 1. Editorials,Editorials, ColumnsColumns and Lettersand Letters Things to thinkThings to think about when itabout when it comes to studentcomes to student opinion in theopinion in the scholastic pressscholastic press Karl GrubaughKarl Grubaugh Granite Bay (Calif.) HSGranite Bay (Calif.) HS

2. EditorialEditorial PoliciesPolicies Yes, you need one; keep it simpleYes, you need one; keep it simple What should go in it? Ideas:What should go in it? Ideas: Get some distance between theGet some distance between the newspaper and school officials,newspaper and school officials, non-J students and younon-J students and you Cite the Constitution and state lawCite the Constitution and state law Include letters to the editor policyInclude letters to the editor policy Include advertising and guestInclude advertising and guest commentary policies (reasons forcommentary policies (reasons for why you wont publish materials)why you wont publish materials) 3. Editorials: TheEditorials: The voice of thevoice of the newspapernewspaper A byline? Probably not. Input from other editors? Probably so. Heres a cool format I found years ago that you can use, too. 4. Editorial StructureEditorial Structure Catch Attention:Catch Attention: Commit:Commit: ConcedeConcede Counter: Strong argumentCounter: Strong argument Convince: Stronger argumentConvince: Stronger argument 5. Editorial Structure,Editorial Structure, continuedcontinued Clinch: Strongest argumentClinch: Strongest argument Commit again:Commit again: Cap it off:Cap it off: A final note:A final note: 6. Types ofTypes of editorialseditorials Focus? Significant news topicFocus? Significant news topic with a current news hookwith a current news hook Four types:Four types: Explain/interpret: how theExplain/interpret: how the newspaper covered a sensitivenewspaper covered a sensitive topic (we often try to link ourtopic (we often try to link our editorial to a story on A1)editorial to a story on A1) Criticize: Constructively criticizeCriticize: Constructively criticize actions, decisions, situations.actions, decisions, situations. Offer solutions!Offer solutions! Persuade: Focus first on thePersuade: Focus first on the solution; encourage specific,solution; encourage specific, positive action.positive action. Praise: Commend people and/orPraise: Commend people and/or organizations; more rare.organizations; more rare. Style? Typically thoughtful,Style? Typically thoughtful, considered, careful, reflective,considered, careful, reflective, seriousserious Thanks to Alan WeintrautThanks to Alan Weintraut of Annandale, Va.of Annandale, Va. 7. ColumnColumn writingwriting Purpose?Purpose? Entertainment/humorEntertainment/humor InformationInformation IndignationIndignation Etc.Etc. Who are some of your faves?Who are some of your faves? Leonard PittsLeonard Pitts Rick ReillyRick Reilly Maureen DowdMaureen Dowd Gene WeingartenGene Weingarten Others?Others? How do you teach column writing?How do you teach column writing? Not easy (is it a gift?)Not easy (is it a gift?) I regularly print a column for my staffI regularly print a column for my staff meetings, have kids read it, and discuss whymeetings, have kids read it, and discuss why it worksit works Being published in the Gazette op-ed sectionBeing published in the Gazette op-ed section is COMPETITIVE!is COMPETITIVE! Try to avoid too many first-person, ChickenTry to avoid too many first-person, Chicken Soup For the Soul-style essays the bestSoup For the Soul-style essays the best 8. What aboutWhat about letters?letters? Yes, you want letters to the editorYes, you want letters to the editor No, you dont want to get into aNo, you dont want to get into a pissing match with readerspissing match with readers Let readers have the final sayLet readers have the final say How to lose a libel judgmentHow to lose a libel judgment The publication cannot hideThe publication cannot hide behind a defense of we didntbehind a defense of we didnt write the letter, we just publishedwrite the letter, we just published itit Limit the length of letters 250Limit the length of letters 250 words?words? Decide in advance how youll dealDecide in advance how youll deal with grammar, spelling, etc.with grammar, spelling, etc. We edit letters the same way weWe edit letters the same way we edit columns and editorials its aedit columns and editorials its a bit of a cheap shot to make letterbit of a cheap shot to make letter writers look stupidwriters look stupid 9. OtherOther ideas/issuesideas/issues in yourin your op-edop-ed sectionssections ForumsForums Heard on the Bay (onHeard on the Bay (on the street Q&A)the street Q&A) Editorial cartoonsEditorial cartoons single panels andsingle panels and stripsstrips Thumbs up, thumbsThumbs up, thumbs downdown Point/CounterpointPoint/Counterpoint Design issues: BigDesign issues: Big illustrations, columnillustrations, column mugs, drop caps, etc.mugs, drop caps, etc. 10. Thanks!Thanks!

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