Maanne Ilagan Lopez
A WORK IN PROGRESS

Lopez, Maanne I.

Editorial and Opinion Writing

December 4, 2007

Freedom of expression entitles everyone to voice out his opinions that are bound to be respected. If that’s the case, then can anyone be an editorial writer and opinion columnist? Contrasting to the civilians, journalists however, as part of the mass media, possess an inherent responsibility to impart a marketplace of ideas noteworthy to the public. One ought to write not just to divulge his personal outlook, but his writing should serve the public, monitor the powerful and exercise stewardship.

To write an editorial is to SEA. That is to Stimulate, Explain and Advocate. If the front page gives the 5Ws and H on the hottest issues of the day, then the heart and the soul of the newspaper or the editorial page add values to it. The opinions presented may endorse political candidates, recommend readers to take certain actions, or otherwise attempt to lead their audience toward solutions to important public issues. It is innate to opinion writers that their viewpoint digs deeper into the news in order to drive the community into thinking and soon after make an intelligent decision of their stand regarding the matter. It is also essential that the opinion writer furnish what the readers need to know in a witty and entertaining way, because the editorial page is not only a place for truth, but as well a place for fun.

Parallel to news writing, opinion writing’s prime foundations are facts; and both journalism forms adhere to the same ethical standards. What differs is their approach in writing – news writing being objective and editorial being subjective. It is in the editorial page that news is analyzed. It’s evident that before a journalist becomes an opinion writer, they start off as a reporter. Almost certainly, this practice entail that journalists have got to master the nitty-gritties of their profession in order to strengthen their opinion writing skill. I deem that unless a journalist stem from a reporter, he cannot be an editorial writer or an opinion columnist.

I agree with Susan Lacett that the best editorial writers are the reporters; and those writers which have been writing editorials for years are uninspired and can quickly make judgments, thus making off-the-cuff editorials. Every now and then, opinion writers and reporters, if possible, should have rotation of their jobs. This way, both of their journalism skills can be regularly practiced, and none are put to one side.

As a student journalist, who has been studying and practicing journalism for two and a half years, I am confident that I possess background, experience and education that fits me to provide such intellectual leadership. As a tyro however, I also know for a fact that my venture into the exciting arena of writing opinion, commentary and criticism is a never ending journey. Every day is a new experience; a new lesson; a continuous learning; a lot of space for improvements. The issues that are to be discussed in the editorial of course should be the most important public issue. At present, I opt to write about the recent stand off at the Manila Peninsula Hotel and the declaration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of curfew in some parts of the country. This occurrence shows the increasing number of Filipinos calling for PGMA to step down. Another thing is the possibility that Arroyo will take advantage of the situation and probably will soon declare Martial Law. Another angle regarding the issue or another hard news can emerge tomorrow that should be discussed to the public. What matters in this form of journalism is that the writer’s opinion can provide a forum for education, discussion and debate that public must have in order to carry out their duties as members of a democratic society.

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