Editorials, not essays

What is an editorial?

An editorial is the newspaper’s leading article and the place where the paper expresses its opinion.

While an editorial is an opinion piece, often related to issues that have attracted attention and debate in the news arena, readers have the right to expect that any opinion expressed is an educated opinion.

The Herald publishes an editorial, or leader, every day on its first opinion page.

Throughout the School Newspaper Competition, primary and secondary participants will be required to submit an editorial.

Some tips on writing an editorial:

An editorial is structured like an exposition. It's a one-sided argument. It needs to be accurate, but not balanced. Your editorial is the voice of your paper, speaking on behalf of your readers, advocating for a course of action or change. Make sure your topic is representative of your readers. You want to speak for them, not ostracise them.

A great test for an editorial is to read it out loud to an audience. If it is well structured, effectively argued and passionately worded, it's probably a good one.

● Decide what you want to persuade your readers about; how it will appeal to your readers and why it is relevant to them.

● Soften criticism - do not divide your readership.

● Speak as the voice of the whole community.

● Tie the editorial to a news item or current issue of public concern.

● Show a local flavour; local loyalties and interests related to readers.

● Avoid a preachy tone and rhetorical flourishes.

● Clarify your point of view before beginning.

● Simplify expressions; talk plainly.

● As a guide, focus on three points only, short paragraphs and short sentences.

● Do not use  "I -  you - me" pronouns; use a plural voice = the community. The editorial is the voice of the newspaper, not an individual.

Editorial cartooning

Think newspaper cartoons, think comics. Right? Well, no. While cartoons are included in most publications to give readers a daily laugh, other forms of artwork, caricatures and cartoons convey news messages through images.

One simple formula that captures this is:

Cartoon + Opinion on newsworthy issue = Editorial cartoon

While cartoons may have a humorous element they are most often serious commentary in visual form. Editorial or political cartoons express an opinion and often utilise satire – that special brand of humour that can make you chuckle and wince at the same time! 

Symbols, stereotypes and caricature are also utilised in the cartoonist’s quest to convey meaning and opinion.

Here are some definitions:

satire:  is  the use of irony, sarcasm and ridicule in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly and the like.

stereotype:  a set form; convention; standardised idea or concept; or to characterise according to a conventional idea or concept. For example – an Australian farmer wears an Akubra and chews a straw of wheat.

caricature:    a picture ludicrously exaggerating the peculiarities or defects of persons or things. For example, compare the photograph of Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott below with their caricature by Herald cartoonist Peter Lewis. He has focused on Julia’s nose and Tony’s ears in an absurd manner.                                       

symbol:  a letter, figure, or other character or mark, or a combination of letters or the like, used to represent something. For example – a dove symbolises peace.

Getting started

For the purposes of the School Newspaper Competition, cartoonists will be required to create an editorial or political cartoon to accompany the editorial article on Page 2.  For maximum impact, cartoonists must:

●  Have an excellent understanding of the news issue discussed in the editorial

●   Identify the opinion being expressed in the editorial article. Write it down.

● Translate this comment into a graphic form. Are there metaphors, allusions or symbols that come to mind?

●   Experiment with shading and shadowing to give the cartoon depth and contrast.

●  Sketch the cartoon in pencil in the supplied template. When you are happy with the cartoon’s completed form, ink over the sketch with a fine black marker and erase your pencil sketch marks.

●  Keep the drawing uncluttered and use as few words (for example balloons, labels or titles) as possible.

●  Make sure the cartoon is accurate. A cartoon may be defamatory if the cartoonist portrays false facts about people or events.