NCMC Friday lecture II


Here are my notes from an “editorials” workshop:

Writing Editorials with Speed, Precision and, Oh yes, Thought


  • Are not written in first person. Why? Because NO ONE cares what you think

Ex. Hypothetical situation: Suppose the president of your school was found in bed with a live boy and a dead woman. What’s the headline? The best headline would be “Fire Him”.

  • Be direct–There is so much opinion that people turn away from editorials out of disgust

Editorials about athletics–Hypothetical situation: It is rumored that the Board of Directors at your school raises money and pays the coach of the football team to pay his players. Yes or no?

  • What is your position? Should be clear–“Set up: Students aren’t paid to go to class, so neither should college athletes be paid to play…”

Editorials about Secrecy–Hypothetical situation: A student has committed suicide on campus in one of the buildings. There has been no mention of this from either the administration or any of the teachers.

  • Headline: “Secrecy kills”

General guidelines

  • Use direct sentences
  • Talk about the issue
  • Active verbs are your friends (was vs. is)
  • Do not use question leads unless you answer them in the next sentence.
  • Don’t sugarcoat in editorials; don’t be wishy-washy

Academics–Hypothetical situation: The administration has decided to combine the Philosophy department and the Foreign language

  • Editorials can’t use namecalling often because it will lose its impact
  • Sarcasm is only appropriate if it is understood
  • Accusations vs. Position–> by writing this, what do you want to be the result, to happen?

Other suggestions:

  • Writers should tweet the titles of the editorials before they’re published. This will help with advertising
  • When writing an editorial, lead along to the end instead of stating your position at the beginning of controversial issues
  • Shot editorials are better, but (with complicated issues) they must be explained fully in the editorial
  • If you can’t explain the issue in one paragraph to students before the editorial, this is probably not a good subject


More later!


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