Op-ed

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An op-ed (short for "opposite the editorial page", not "opinion editorial") is a piece typically published by newspapers, magazines, and the like which expresses the opinions of a named author usually affiliated with the publication's editorial board.[1] Op-eds are different from both editorials (opinion pieces submitted by editorial board members) and letters to the editor (opinion pieces submitted by readers).

Origin[edit]

Although standard editorial pages have been printed by newspapers for many centuries, the direct ancestor to the modern op-ed page was created in 1921 by Herbert Bayard Swope of The New York Evening World. When he took over as editor in 1920, he realized that the page opposite the editorials was "a catchall for book reviews, society boilerplate, and obituaries".[2] He is quoted as writing:

It occurred to me that nothing is more interesting than opinion when opinion is interesting, so I devised a method of cleaning off the page opposite the editorial, which became the most important in America ... and thereon I decided to print opinions, ignoring facts.[3]

But Swope included only opinions by employees of his newspaper giving rise to the "modern" op-ed page which was first published in 1970 under the direction of New York Times editor, John B. Oakes.[4]

Competition from radio and television[edit]

Beginning in the 1930s, radio began to threaten print journalism, a process that was later accelerated by the rise of television. To combat this, major newspapers such as the New York Times and The Washington Post began including more openly subjective and opinionated journalism, adding more columns and growing their op-ed pages.[5]

Possible conflicts of interest[edit]

A concern about how to clearly disclose the ties in the op-eds arises because the readers of the media cannot be expected to know all about the possible connections between op-eds editors and interest groups funding some of them. In a letter to the New York Times, the lack of a clear declaration of conflict of interest in op-eds has been criticized by a group of U.S. journalists campaigning for more "op-ed transparency".[6][7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved June 29, 2010. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/op-ed
  2. ^ Meyer, K. (1990). Pundits, poets, and wits. New York: Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Swope, H. B. as quoted in Meyer, K. (1990). Pundits, poets, and wits. New York: Oxford University Press, p. xxxvii.
  4. ^ "A press scholar explains how the New York Times op-ed page began". The Slate Group. September 27, 2010. Retrieved August 9, 2012. 
  5. ^ ""Journalism"". Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. 2010. 
  6. ^ "US journalists launch campaign for 'op-ed transparency'". The Guardian. October 11, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Journos call for more transparency at New York Times op-ed page". Columbia Journalism Review. October 6, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2012. 

External links[edit]

  • The Opinionator – "provides a guide to the wide world of newspaper, magazine and Web opinion".
  • The OpEd Project – "an initiative to expand public debate and to increase the number of women in thought leadership positions." Seminars around the US target and train women experts to make a powerful, evidence based case of public value, for the ideas and causes they believe in, and connect them with a system and network of support.
  • The Do Good Gauge – is a research proposal. The many essays describe the problem or give direction to solution in the inefficiencies of political and social discourse. The website attempts to facilitate public authorship in pursuit of civic virtue.
  • "And now a word from the op-ed of The New York Times". The New York Times. February 1, 2004. Retrieved October 16, 2011. 
  • "What we talk about when we talk about editing". The New York Times. July 31, 2005. Retrieved October 16, 2011.