The term “Op-Ed” describes the common placement of an Op-Ed piece on the page opposite the editorial. Op-Eds can focus on major national (or international) news stories to local issues, and are designed to offer different or expanded positions. In general, Op-Eds are offered to educate members of the public about an issue beyond what the media may already be covering and to persuade people to consider the author’s point of view or take action on an issue. Op-Eds also help to build the ethos—or credibility—of a writer by adding an alternative voice to a conversation, a perspective that authorities may have previously overlooked. In this way, Op-Eds are like academic research papers because they ask you to find your voice and perspective in the already existing community of voices.
Content and Audience. STEP ONE.
To focus your Op-Ed, you should consider the ways your own insights add something new to a conversation on an issue of cultural, political, or humanitarian significance. Your issue can be about something that’s happening on our campus, in your hometown or nation, or in the larger world.
To find a focus, continue to research other newspaper articles that are written on this topic. Find at least two additional articles that relate to this topic so you have a better sense of the conversation and what perspectives are being articulates and what perspectives are being left out. Take notes on perspectives that you feel are missing from these readings, or on viewpoints that you feel are incompletely expressed. Some questions for you to consider are:
· What voices are missing from the conversation?
· How do your own experiences influence an alternative perspective on the issue?
· Does the writer misinterpret or unfairly represent certain points of view?
· Does the writer “get it right,” but still leave important perspectives out of the conversation?
Research. STEP TWO.
As you write and revise your Op-Ed, you will work to integrate relevant research that will allow you to both support your views and distinguish them from the views of others who have written on the issue. Be aware that typically, strong Op-Eds do not simply take an “either/or” argument, but rather concentrate on nuances about the issue that may have been missed or underdeveloped. In other words, powerful Op-Eds say something new, instead of rehashing the same tired arguments. Finally, remember that your Op-Ed should develop a strong, well supported argument that appeals to logos, ethos, and pathos.
Organization and Format. STEP THREE.
There are many ways to organize your Op-Ed piece and, as a class, we will analyze sample Op-Eds in order to articulate a general understanding of the conventions of the genre’s structure. Considering these conventions, you will have to decide the best way to arrange your Op-Ed to make your argument clear and appeal to ethos, logos, and pathos. All three rhetorical approaches should be used in your Op-Ed. Since this editorial is 3 pages, you should think about which rhetorical approaches you will use more than once.