How To Write An Editorial For A Newspaper


There are no hard and fast rules in the techniques of editorial writing. The styles in editorial writing vary greatly since there is any number of gifted editorial writers. The style of editorials can be described as the argumentative, the persuasive the expository and the pedantic, the hortatory, the denunciatory or the vituperative. But the rarest type of editorial is the one which combines persuasion with wit and humor.

Editorial is invariably written in a race against time. The marvelous thing about a good editorial is that it has been written in a hurry to conform to the newspaper’s relentless time schedule. The greatness of the editorial lies in the exceptional competence, knowledge and gifted literary skills of the writers. In fact, such editorial pieces are examples of high literary quality too.

One of the risks that may well be avoided in editorial writing is the habit of rushing to express an opinion on vital issue on the basis of misleading or inadequate reports. Since editorials are respected as the well-considered judgment of the editor, impulsive and hurried opinions based on inadequate information or a superficial study of the problem must not be resorted to.  It is true that a newspaper must keep in pace with the rival newspapers who may be quick to express their views on anything and everything under the sun. Instead of feeling compelled to “keep up with the Joneses” a newspaper which chooses to comment after a proper consideration of the matter which may be delayed by a day or so would win an enduring respect and confidence of its readers than a newspaper which hastens to spout anything at the drop of the hat and off the cuff comments.

But there are many occasions when the newspapers have very little time to consider. Example: during the presentation of the Central Budget. There will be hardly any time to consider all the budget proposals and comment on them in time for the morning edition. In such cases, especially when the readers are perhaps eagerly expecting the newspaper’s comments on the Budget, it might be necessary to give a quick preliminary reaction to the Budget, to be followed by one or more considered editorials on various aspects of the subject on subsequent days.

There is a distinct style of editorial that stands out in very special occasions in India like a war emergency or a general election of special importance. It is the signed editorial. This signed editorial appearing on the front page was employed by the late Frank Moraes as a means of focusing the readers’ attention on the outstanding issues dealt with in the editorials. Obviously, such signed editorials appearing on the front page derived their importance as much from the personality of Moraes himself as from the fact that they were featured on the front page. It is a technique which has relevance on exceptional occasions when it may be expected that the entire readership of a newspaper is deeply concerned about the issues dealt with in the editorials. Such signed editorials have to present a very strong and distinctive point of view in a forceful style if they are to interest the readers. Obviously they cannot be adopted as a regular form of editorial writing.

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