How to write an editorial with impact
We’ve all read them in our daily newspaper or magazine.
Some of you may even have been asked to write one for a publication.
But what are editorials? And how should they be structured and written in such a way to have a meaningful and lasting impact?
The first question is easy to answer: editorials are an opportunity to persuasively put across your opinion on a particular subject in writing backed up with hard facts.
Think of yourself as a top lawyer setting out your case in court and the key points you want to get across to the judge or jury to support your argument.
Here’s a five-step guide on how to go about writing an editorial that grabs people’s attention and gets them thinking about or debating the issue:
1) Choose your topic carefully
Start by selecting a topical or controversial subject that will interest your readers.
For example, take an issue that divides opinion such as Brexit and make the case either for or against it, adding the value of your expertise to the argument.
Narrow down your topic around one specific problem to make it as targeted as possible.
Then thoroughly research your subject matter using a range of different sources including the internet, public and library records, books, newspapers and magazines for facts and figures to support your argument.
2) Set out your position
Now it’s time to put pen to paper.
Begin with a bold statement that makes your target audience sit up and take notice.
Then set out your agenda logically, clearly explaining the reasons why you strongly believe what you say to be correct.
Connect with your readers by using real examples that touch their everyday lives and will resonate with them to illustrate your key points.
3) Build your argument
Once you have built a strong argument you need to expand on it.
A good starting point is to present the counter view and explain why you disagree with it and why it’s not viable, providing constructive criticism for each point.
Use analogies such as what is happening in other countries to reinforce your argument, highlighting the similarities and differences.
4) Provide possible solutions
Now that you have made your case and disarmed contrary claims with a clear call to action, you should offer a possible solution to the problem.
Outline and discuss the alternative options available, clearly stating why they are better than what is currently being done.
Explain how each one would work in easy to follow steps that can be readily acted upon.
Bring your argument full circle with a punchy conclusion that summarises all of the main points.
5) Read, read and read again
Once you have completed your editorial you need to make sure that it’s absolutely watertight.
Check that all of your facts and figures, quotes, spelling, punctuation and grammar are correct so there are no holes in your argument.
Read it out loud to hear how it sounds and see whether it would convince you.
Get an experienced editor to double check your work to make sure that your argument is easy to understand, relevant and holds water.
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