Opinion writing must be learned as well as taught.* Student writers must recognize their role in campus discourse.
I cringe cringe
intr.v. cringed, cring·ing, cring·es
1. To shrink back, as in fear; cower.
2. To behave in a servile way; fawn.
An act or instance of cringing. every time I see a college newspaper columnist Noun 1. newspaper columnist - a columnist who writes for newspapers
agony aunt - a newspaper columnist who answers questions and offers advice on personal problems to people who write in
columnist, editorialist - a journalist who writes editorials burn 15 inches on, say, whether Tater Tots Tater Tots, also known as "Tots", a registered trademark for a commercial form of hash browns, is a side-dish made from deep-fried, grated potatoes. Tater Tots are widely recognized for their crispiness, cylindrical shape and small size. are better with ketchup or mustard.
In my mind (and, I fear, in the minds of many readers and professionals) it takes 10 good pieces to erase one such diatribe di·a·tribe
A bitter, abusive denunciation.
[Latin diatriba, learned discourse, from Greek diatrib , which appears all too often in college newspapers.
The reasons are varied. Weak-willed editors and time constraints In law, time constraints are placed on certain actions and filings in the interest of speedy justice, and additionally to prevent the evasion of the ends of justice by waiting until a matter is moot. are two problems that particularly plague college newspapers.
Other elements point to the importance of strong opinion-writing education. Successful college opinion writers have an understanding of the role of editorial pages, a knowledge of reporting and news-writing practices, and as many critical writing and thinking skills as their colleges can provide.
The biggest downfall for young opinion writers is their mistaken view that the newspaper must provide them space to say whatever they want about whatever they choose. They don't recognize the opinion page's role in campus discourse and its ability to effect change at the university. Sometimes they simply don't care
"Don't Care" is a 1994 (see 1994 in music) single by American death metal band Obituary. .
When I took over as opinion editor of my campus paper last fall, I wrote a set of guidelines for the page that defined its role. My writers knew from the start that their work was not just their chance to vent about whatever lit their fuses. They knew they had a special position on campus and a responsibility to the university community.
This sense should be indoctrinated in all young opinion writers. They should read editorials in local and national dailies frequently and study the issues they address. They should see that major columnists don't generally gripe gripe
To have sharp pains in the bowels.
1. gripes Sharp, spasmodic pains in the bowels.
2. A firm hold; a grasp. that their roommate plays bad music loudly.
In short, they should learn early and often the lesson of the paper's role in community discourse.
One of my professors, Tommy Thomason, notes that unlike college-level reporters, copy editors, and photographers, university opinion writers don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)
"Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party. a lot about the jobs done by their professional counterparts. For the most part, Thomason says, they don't read opinion pages.
Not changing or subject to change; constant.
in·vari·a·bil , I find that the columnists who need the least editing and guidance are those with experience or journalism backgrounds. The importance of writing and reporting skills cannot be underestimated.
It takes effort
Columnists need the news judgment and tight writing ability that come from entry-level journalism classes. That way, they know why it's appropriate to write about the campus food service system but not necessarily the ketchup/mustard issue. They also know the most concise, interesting way to frame the discussion.
Ultimately, I think opinion writing can be taught, but it must be actively learned. A student must undergo a long process of reading tremendous amounts of commentary, particularly that with which the student disagrees. The writer must consider the responsibilities of editorials and columns and build a strong background in writing and reporting.
The student who accomplishes these goals will be prepared for a role in opinion writing.
Ryan J. Rusak, formerly opinion editor, has been named editor of Texas Christian University's Daily Skiff for the first semester of his senior year this fall.