Free online reading
INTRODUCTION ... 4
DEFINITION OF EDITORIAL ... 4
Brief History of Editorials ... 5
Features of an Editorial ... 6
Nature of Editorial ... 6
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE ... 7
QUALITIES OF A GOOD EDITORIAL ... 7
INTRODUCTION ... 7
Qualities of a Good Editorial ... 7
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE ... 9
PUBLIC OPINION AND EDITORIALS ... 10
INTRODUCTION ... 10
Definition of Public Opinion ... 10
Importance of Public Opinion ... 11
Formation of Public Opinion ... 12
Opinion Functions of Editorials ... 12
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE ... 15
EDITORIALS AND OTHER FORMS OF WRITING ... 15
INTRODUCTION ... 15
Editorial and News ... 15
Editorial and Features ... 16
Editorials and Columns ... 16
TYPES OF EDITORIALS ... 17
Nigeria's Future ... 18
Controversial Editorials: ... 19
Kalu's Comedy of Errors ... 20
Explanatory Editorials: ... 22
SOURCING THE EDITORIAL MATERIALS ... 24
QUALITIES OF GOOD EDITORIAL WRITERS ... 25
INTRODUCTION ... 25
Qualities of Good Editorial Writer ... 26
THE STRUCTURE OF AN EDITORIAL ... 27
"Nigerian Universities and world ranking" ... 28
GUIDES FOR GOOD EDITORIAL WRITING ... 30
Determinants of Editorial Subjects ... 30
HOW TO WRITE EDITORIALS (PRACTICAL) ... 32
THE EDITORIAL AUDIENCE ... 33
THE EDITORIAL PAGE (LAYOUT) ... 34
INTRODUCTION ... 34
Importance of the Editorial Page ... 35
Components of Editorial Page ... 36
Editorial Cartoons ... 36
ETHICS OF EDITORIAL WRITING ... 36
It is quite acceptable that journalists and mass communicators primarily have the
responsibility of informing, educating and entertaining members of the society. As an
institution, the mass media could set agenda, preserve cultural heritage, as well as confer
status on individuals or institutions in the society. To achieve these, however, different
approaches, such as news reporting, features writing, news analysis, editorial writing and
news commentaries, could be employed by journalists. This lecture explores editorial writing
with particular emphasis on its meaning, history, characteristics and nature.
At the end of this unit, you should be able to:
· Define what an Editorial is
· Know the history of Editorials
· Explain the characteristics of Editorials
· Describe the nature of Editorials.
DEFINITION OF EDITORIAL
An editorial could be defined as a corporate voice of a media organisation on any given issue
of public interest. Also known as the leader, the editorial is looked upon by Duyile (2005:63)
as the "opinion of a newspaper simply written for the understanding of readers, leading them
to take decisions on the issues being discussed." In a simple manner, the veteran journalist
describes it as the explanatory text, the opinions of the newspaper on any topic. According to
him, this could be an argument exhibiting the logical reasoning of a newspaper, using
thoughts of the proprietor for the purpose of persuading the readers (audience) to either kick
against or accept an idea, policy or an action based on facts available. Hoffman (2007:113) on
the other hand, views an editorial as a "statement of opinion from an editor or publisher about
you and your business or media coverage generated by news staff." In agreement with the
above, Iyorkyaa (1996:4) define an editorial as "a journalistic essay which attempts to: a.
inform or explain; b. persuade or convince; c. stimulate insight in an entertaining or humorous
manner." In their views, Okoro and Agbo (2003:125) capture the concept of the editorial as "a
critical evaluation, interpretation and presentation of significant, contemporary events in such
a way as to inform, educate, entertain and influence the reader." It could be inferred from the
definitions above that an editorial is based on expression or corporate opinion which usually
interprets issues from a deeper out-look and entertains the average reader with its substance
and depth of analysis. Editorial writing has become a celebrated concept for serious-minded
newspapers just as a news commentary is for broadcasting due to the opinion function of the
mass media (Ate, 2006). However, an editorial is influenced by the newspaper policy and
philosophy, ownership structure as well as political environment in which it operates.
Brief History of Editorials
What is today known as the editorial could be traced as far back in 1880 (Yaasa, 1996:6). This
was the time in which the term Editorial was put to use as a label to mark clearly a statement
of the editor's opinion. The term was used then to refer to an article written by the editor.
However, in the 20th century, the coast of editorials became wide-spread. This was largely
due to the fact that newspapers across the globe had made editorials to be occupying separate
pages or spaces in their publications. Also around this period, certain newspapers the world
over began placement of editorials on left hand pages, usually in front of the section. It is
worthy to note that modern newspapers have significantly expanded and enriched the editorial
page to the extent that it is been used to face lengthy opinions by columnists and guest
writers. This trade mark is known as op-ed, meaning opposite the editorial page.
Features of an Editorial
An editorial topic or subject cannot emerge from the blue. (Ate, 2007). It usually comprises
issues of topical interest that have been reported in the mass media by way of hard news or
features, which attracts public attention and debate.
An editorial could, therefore, be said to have characteristics of news and features elements.
More so, an editorial has other features like objectivity, precision, specialism and advocacy.
These according to Ukonu (2005) are all incorporated into editorials for the fact that it is
investigative, interpretative and newsy in nature. He contends that the editorial is a melting
pot for all kinds of journalist writings.
An editorial also has some characteristics of a story because of its subjectivity biases.
Editorials could be subjective in posture because their sources could emanate from thought-
provoking letters to the editors which are often used for gauging public opinion on emerging
controversial and topical issues of public interest.
An editorial is also characterized by borrowed ideas from other journalistic write-ups. This
simply agrees with the fact that the editorial has some components of different journalistic
Nature of Editorial
Editorial writing belongs to the print media genre. While other opinion pieces like articles,
columns and essays are credited to individuals or joint writers, the editorial belongs to a
newspaper as an institution a social institution. (Ukonu, 2005).
Naturally, an editorial is more of a corporate view. It therefore carries an institutional flavour.
This explains why terms like "we" or a newspaper's name is often used instead of "I" or the
writer's name. Since it is an organisational affair, any credit or blame in an editorial usually
goes to the organisation, rather than the individual.
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE
1. In your own words, define Editorial.
2. Briefly trace the history of editorial and the changes in its trends from individual to
3. What are the features of an editorial?
4. Distinguish the nature of editorials from other forms of writing.
QUALITIES OF A GOOD EDITORIAL
Editorial, just like human beings have qualities. This lecture shall discuss the qualities of
editorial. This is aimed at assisting the student in writing a professionally acceptable editorial.
Qualities of a Good Editorial
It is important for a good editorial writer to imbibe certain guidelines on the concept of
editorial writing. These guidelines will enable the writer to appreciate the qualities of a good
editorial. Ate (2007), Onabajo (2000), Ukonu (2005), Okoro and Agbo (2003) capture the
general hints guiding the concept of editorial writing. These are:
1. Institutional Flavour : The editorial must be written using the institutional name. It should
be regarded as the corporate voice of the media establishment and not that of the individual.
2. The Language should be plain and Unambiguous : Whatever purpose is intended of an
editorial, the writer should make the language simple, so it could be understood by the target
audience. For the editorial writer to achieve this,
there is a need to avoid beating about the bush.
3. Editorials should be exact and Straight-To-The-Point : It is expected of a good editorial
writer to make the point as it is. This is a good quality of editorial that makes it to be punchy
4. It must be Human Interest Oriented: Man is generally interested in affairs of fellow
men. He therefore looks for such knowledge. An editorial that has human interest is bound to
win the affection of people, as they would get interested in it than others. It is therefore
essential to make this a good quality of an editorial.
5. Editorials should be Catchy and Attention Arresting: A writer should avoid dull and
weak editorials because they cannot create a desired effect on the target audience. Strong
words that are persuasive in nature should be used in an editorial to make it catchy and
6. It should be Original in Tone and Substance: Editorials are not copied from other
newspapers. Rather, they are generated by ideas obtained from researches. Editorial writers
should be original in the art and science of editorial writing. They should avoid copying other
people's work, but rather contribute new ideas and agenda for public opinion.
7. It must be well Researched Just as it is mentioned above: Editorial writers should
research before writing the editorial. This could make the editorial timely, authoritative and
qualitative. A highly profound editorial is a product of good research.
8. Editorials should be Factual, Concrete and not speculative : Editorial writers should
make sure that their opinion pieces are credible enough for publication. It is wise for such
editorials to be cross-checked to avoid falsehood and ensure accuracy.
Capturing the qualities of a good editorial in harmony of the above views, Folarin (1998:36-
38) identifies the general tips on editorial writing:
· select a current topic and stick to it, albeit looking at it from all relevant angles. Sometimes
an advocacy or propagandistic editorial chooses a specific point of view and sticks to it,
disregarding other possible angles. The purpose of the editorial decides the approach adopted
· find a sound premise for your position and let your reasoning on that premise be equally
· make the editorial short and crisp. A long editorial is an aberration and must have a strong
justification such as a special occasion (military coup, an independence anniversary, the
signing of a bilateral treaty etc). In many cases, long editorials are broken down into
installments, each installment looking at a specific aspect of the topic. More than two
editorials on a given topic becomes an "editorial campaign". Such campaigns are rare in
· the language of editorials, more than that of any other item in the paper, is expected to be
flawless, since the editorial is the "intellectual powerhouse of the newspaper". The expression
is forthright and masculine, and does not leave the reader in any doubt about the paper's
position on the pertinent issue. Simplicity is not a leading quality of editorials in Nigeria. But
each one should be clear, concise and definitive.
For any editorial to create the desired effect and win the affection of the audience, it must
have the above qualities. It is therefore important for editorialists to have a mastery of what
constitute good editorials. Good editorials are not supposed to be dull. They are not supposed
to be emotional and illogical. They are not supposed to be based on rumour or untested facts
but on concrete and logical facts. They are not supposed to be based on irrelevant issues but
on topical issues of public interest. Good editorials must have a segmented audience but its
message must be understood by all who are exposed to it. A good editorial must also have
visual or pictorial qualities. As the reader is exposed to it, he or she should be able to
appreciate the issue under probe in real terms.
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE
Discuss the qualities of a good editorial.
PUBLIC OPINION AND EDITORIALS
Definitions of Public Opinion
Importance of Public Opinion
Formation of Public Opinion
Opinion Functions of Editorials
The mass media are known for their roles in the formation of public opinion. Thus, this has
earned them the title "the court of public opinion." This unit examines issues that revolve
around the importance of public opinion and its formation. A thorough examination of the
opinion function of editorials would be the focal point of discussion. This would enable the
student to appreciate the importance of editorials in modern day newspapers.
At the end of this unit, you should be able to:
· define public opinion
· discuss the importance of public opinion
· state the factors that are responsible for the formation of public opinion
· discuss the opinion function of editorials.
Definition of Public Opinion
Public opinion is, simply, the aggregate views of members of the society on a given
significant issue, be it political, social or an economic one. Put simpler, public opinion is a
collection of views and feelings of members of the public on current topical issues. Take for
instance, the voting pattern of 2007 election. Public views can be harvested on the issue and
the position of the public can be made known through the mass media.
Importance of Public Opinion
The mass media are indisputably the mouth piece of society. Because of the aggressive
expansion of societies in recent times as a result of population explosion, the mass media
remain the only sure voice or platform whereby members of society will express their
feelings, views and opinions. Public opinion is useful or beneficial in the following ways:
i. provides the resources for determining the current I mage of an individual or
organization. If, for instance, a political office holder wishes to measure or test his/her
popularity, public opinion will be the way forward. The media will only take the individual
concern to the court of public opinion and either the vote of confidence or no confidence
would be passed on the person. The same thing could be applicable to an organization that
wishes to measure its profile in the eyes of the public.
ii. Reveals need for social change. Social change, according to Wilmot (1985:174) cited in
Ojo (2004), is the alteration in the sources or organization of society or its component parts
overtime. Mac Gee et al (1977:589) cited in Ojo (op cit) describes social change as the
transformation in patterns of social organization or activity. An adage says nothing is
permanent except change. The mass communicator through his interaction with diverse
members of the society is an agent of change. The mass communicator keeps a tab on human
and organization behaviours and in line with public position or opinion may champion the
cause of social change in a society.
iii. Predicts financial and developmental future of an organization. The mass media may
keep its watchful eyes on a particular organization and predict the organization's future
financial status through the help of public opinion.
iv. Provides raw materials for research purposes. By exposing some grey areas of a
phenomenon through public opinion or debate, researchers could benefit much in the art and
science of public opinion.
v. Aids policy formulation and planning in society. Through public opinion, government
can know the views of the people and can formulate policies for their good governance.
Formation of Public Opinion
Generally, controversial issues are batteries for formation of public opinion. However, public
opinion can be formed in other diverse ways. These include:
· Through the mass media. That is the expression of people's views through Radio, TV,
Newspapers, and Magazines.
· Peer groups. A group of people moving together and sharing common ties and influences.
· Pressure group and political parties. Pressure group, professional leanings and political
parties provide a bazaar of information that forms and shapes public opinion.
· Symposia and lectures. Symposia and public lectures provide avenues for brainstorming of
ideas whose molecules can be used in constructing public opinion.
· Election Political advertisements and other kinds of electioneering campaigns often
provoke important public issues that result in formation of public opinion.
· Individual orientation or background. A person who, by geographical, professional or social
background, is thoroughly exposed to public issues or debates can serve as a useful resource
in the formation of public opinion
Opinion Functions of Editorials
There is a striking relationship between public opinion and editorial writing. Issues in the
mass media, you will agree, may start at the running-fever level (insignificant level) but later
explode into public knowledge. It is at this stage that the editorial writer comes in either to
support or oppose the vexed issue in the court of public opinion. Editorials in modern
newspapers and magazines, according to Ate (2007:21-28), perform the following functions:
i. Criticise or attack socio-political, economic and moral dilemmas of the society. An
editorialist sometimes performs the job of a human rights activist raising alarm on blatant
abuse or annihilation of certain norms and acceptable social order in the society. Exploitative
and autocratic government policies can be attacked by editorials. On the side of the governed,
when a particular section of the society decides, for instance, to take laws into its hand,
editorials are bound to criticize such an anomaly.
ii. Illuminate the day's intelligence. By throwing more light to complex issues of the day,
editorials often try to look at the two sides of an issue. They highlight and analyse the
strengths and weaknesses of public issues while proffering solutions to complex issues of
iii. Bring to fore debatable issues and provide an intellectual compass for society to
discuss and resolve burning issues. Editorials give direction for discussion and resolution of
burning issues in the society. They provoke debate on diverse issues of public concern
especially for the elites. iv. Defend the underdogs in the society. In every given society, there
exist different dimensions of natural and artificial economic gaps between the rich and the
poor, the powerful and the powerless, the educated and the uneducated, etc. When the rich,
for instance, tend to unjustifiably exploit and manipulate the poor, editorials rise up in defense
of the latter. The relationship among different members of the society is often monitored by
the media and an advocacy role played by editorials to defend the course of the wretched of
v. To influence policy formulation or decision making on certain issues. Editorials
galvanise policy makers to set proactive agenda for good governance of the society.
Capturing the characteristics of editorials in harmony with the aforementioned functions,
Idemili, cited in Uwakwe (2005:107-108), observes:
a. That the editorial helps the reader to bring order out of chaos of news.
b. That on the editorial page, special reporters or columnists have a place, for explaining
behind-the-scene events and that freedom of style and deep backgrounding is permitted. c.
That the editorial can fight battles for the newspaper reader.
d. That the editorial plays agenda-setting functions or role; exposes public debate, the good
and bad ideas in circulation.
e. That the editorial page should give readers the opportunity to air their views by providing
space for letters to the editor. f. That the editorial makes room for the editor to express his
g. That the editorial serves as a source of personality to the newspaper.
vii. Appeal or Persuade. Editorials appeal to or persuade the readers to accept the rightness
or wrongness of an issue. Some editorials often woo individual members of the society,
corporate bodies or government to accept a particular course of action for the interest of the
society. Such editorials are sandwiched with concrete facts and spice-up with tantalizing
persuasive techniques which create indelible marks on the psyche of readers.
A good and powerful editorial usually has impact. In Nigeria, for instance, good editorials
often galvanise policy formulation on the side of government and relevant stakeholders for the
betterment of the society. On the side of the governed, editorials mobilize them either to reject
or accept a policy or a burning issue of the day.
Editorials can in a detailed manner, indicate, inform and entertain members of the public and
divergent issues in the society. Ideas harvested from editorials can also help in preserving the
nation's sacred institutions like marriage, religion, etc. Through broadcast commentaries,
members of the community can be mobilized to participate in meaningful developmental
projects in the society. Such projects may include head count, election, immunization
exercise, to mention only a few. Editorials can create a pathway for legislators for instance, to
initiate bills that would eventually become laws in the nation's statute books. If an editorial is
to create impact on its audience, it must reflect the wisdom, integrity and voice of the society.
An impact-creating editorial must represent the hopes and aspirations of the community in
which the newspaper is located or published.
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE
Define public opinion. 2. Outline the importance of public opinion. 3. Identify at least six
factors that can be used in the formation of public opinion. 4. Discuss the functions of
editorials in the mass media.
EDITORIALS AND OTHER FORMS OF WRITING
Editorials and other forms of newspaper write-ups are based on subjective opinion about
issues. This is unlike straight forward news reporting which is mostly objective and based on
facts. This unit examines the relationship between editorials and other forms of writing, such
as features, columns and news.
By the end of this unit, you should be able to: · discuss the relationship between editorials and
factual news reporting · appreciate the relationship between editorials and features · state the
relationship between editorials and columns.
Editorial and News
For a rewind, the editorial is the corporate expression of media organisation on given issues of
public interest, while news is the recounting of factual and timely events in the society. It is
instructive to know that editorials are "opinionated" or subjective, while news is objective in
nature. Editorials are written out of news stories, while news is influenced by events, reports
and the audience. The major elements of news are: · Timeliness · Proximity · Oddities ·
Prominence · Consequences · Human interest.
Straightforward news reporting or factual news is a kind of report that says it as it is. Factual
news serves as sources for editorials and features, as most issues addressed in editorials do
emanate from news reports. Editorials also stimulate news. This is clearly shown when the
public reacts to editorial contents either in support or objection of an issue. It is, therefore,
clear that both concepts complement each other.
Editorial and Features
Editorial writing is research oriented. The same thing is applicable to features writing. A
feature is a creative journalistic article which informs, explains, analyses, interprets, and
exposes issues for the sake of readers. Awoyinfa and Igwe (1991:5) describe a feature as a
"colourful story about people, events, places, life... It is written in an interesting and creative
manner with information drawn from people involved, eyewitnesses, experts on the subjects
and those affected by the subjects". Both features and editorials give room for deeper and
logical analysis of issues. However, Okoro and Agbo (2003:96) provide the parting point
between features and editorials as follows: (a) Most features carry bylines, i.e they are signed
by their writers. Usually, editorials do not carry bylines. (b) Features can be accompanied by
illustrations. In most cases, editorials are not illustrated (photographic illustrations). (c)
Features are usually the result of individual effort, while editorials are the result of group
effort, that is, the editorial board.
Editorials and Columns
An editorial is a journalistic article or essay which critically and rationally informs, educates
and entertains its target audience on sociopolitical and economic issues of the day. A column
on the other hand is an article which carries the personality, style, and individual identity of
the writer. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines a column as an article
on a particular subject or by a particular writer that appears regularly in a newspaper or a
magazine. Editorials and columns have striking resemblance in tone and substance, especially
public affairs columns. That notwithstanding, columns and editorials have some demarcation
lines. According to Onabajo (2000), most editorials have institutional flavours while columns
have personal flavours, a distinction that goes beyond the use of "we" and "I". In writing an
editorial, the word "we" or the name of the newspaper or magazine is often used as an
attestation of the corporate concern while "I" is used in columns to showcase personal appeal.
In columns, the author's byline and style are made manifest in the writeup. This is opposed to
editorial writing where all credits, glories and blames, as the case may be, go to the media
establishment and not to an individual. Duyile (2005:69) gives the demarcation line between
columns and editorials. According to him, "writing a column is not writing an editorial. It is a
kind of feature which expresses your personality to readers. The readers will always
remember you for your expressions, your style, and your treatment of issues from your own
personal ways." Under columns, the writer's names or pseudonym can be used but this is not
applicable to editorial writing.
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE
Explain the relationship between editorial and factual news reporting.
2. Describe the meeting and parting points of features and editorials.
3. Explain the differences between editorials and columns.
TYPES OF EDITORIALS
There are three basic types of editorials. These are: i. Interpretative Editorials ii. Controversial
Editorials iii. Explanatory Editorials
Interpretative Editorial: These are written to explain issues at stake. They, therefore, place
factual points for readers to assess and decide a right action to take. They could be positive,
negative or even neutral to issues, depending on the views of the media organisation.
Let's take a look at a sample of this kind of editorial.
A report by a US intelligence agency on the future of Nigeria by 2020 has generated
concerns. The global report of the US National Intelligence Council examined the social,
political and economic future of countries and continents, identified areas of strengths and
weaknesses worth consolidating or redressing, and made some projections.
Specifically, the report predicted that Nigeria might break up within 15 years if the leaders
disregard people's wish and insist on an unworkable union. According to the report, the
country's "leaders are locked up in a bad marriage that all dislike but dare not leave." The
document expresses the possibility of "a junior officer coup that could destabilize the country
to the extent that open warfare breaks out in many parts in a sustained manner;" adding
rightly that a failed Nigeria will be difficult to reconstitute.
The report also notes that Africa's hope of benefitting from globalization will depend on
the extent to which each country improves governance, reins in corruption, resolves conflicts,
and firms up the rule of law. Leadership, the report says, will be the key to progress for sub-
Saharan countries that are lucky
evolve it. The report does not spare the US, which it says
might lose its global economic dominance to upcoming China and India.
While dismissing the report as "glib talk" by detractors, President Mohammadu Buhari has
confessed that the gloomy forecast poses a serious challenge to him and all Nigerians. He has,
therefore, passed the report to the National Assembly for action.
There is no doubt that almost everyone wants a united Nigeria. But the injustices that
precipitated the 30-month civil war in 1967 appear to have grown deeper and more
widespread. Over the years, successive governments have failed to forge a national identity.
So, the citizens still feel more comfortable sticking to their ethnic identities. Since democracy
reemerged in 1999, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in ethno-religious crises
that sprouted from the unsettled national question over indigene/settler dichotomy. There are
standing ethnic militias in the north, south, east and west. Just recently, President Obasanjo
reportedly gave out several millions of naira as ransom to stave off the threat to blow up oil
installations by a Niger Delta militia group.
Except the deceitful ones, therefore, only a few would require a US intelligence to predict
that Nigeria's fragile unity may snap if urgent steps are not taken to redress a flawed and
unjust structure that has only fueled mass poverty and frustration. For now, the ruling class
may continue to delude itself that there are no dangers ahead. Blinded by the filthy reward
they get from a corrupt and dysfunctional system, the nation's unruly politicians often
wrongly assume that citizens will forever tolerate injustice via rigged elections; executive
rascality in flagrantly disobeying Supreme Court verdicts; and abuse of incumbency powers
to brutalize or kill political opponents.
Buhari's anger that government's ongoing promising reforms were not reckoned with in
foreseeing a brighter future for Nigeria is instructive. But the truth is that the reforms are half-
hearted and so yield slow, insignificant and unnoticeable returns. Six years of reforms, for
instance, has produced a more epileptic regime of power supply, posing a serious threat to
industrialization and job creation. That is just one indication that the nation's economy is far
from being export-oriented and, therefore, vulnerable to the adverse impacts of globalization.
To prevent the doomsday forecast from being fulfilled, the nation's leaders must be bold
enough to dismantle an unjust fiscal structure that has alienated the constituent parts. The
nation's unity depends on how quickly the centre is whittled down for a truly federal Nigerian
state to emerge.
Controversial editorials are written with the particular mission or mandate to propagate a
particular or specific point of view. Such editorials often attempt to convince the reader on the
desirability or inevitability of a particular issue while painting the opposing side in bad light.
These kinds of editorials are either positive or negative. There is no room for neutrality in
such editorials because they can out rightly support or oppose an issue with all vehemence
(Ate 2007:16). Below is a specimen of a controversial editorial.
Kalu's Comedy of Errors
The People's Democratic Party (PDP) is undoubtedly a big party. Its bigness derives from
a lot of variables. These variables include size, geographical spread, religious spread,
membership and even quality of individual members. For a country whose previous
democratic collapse could be partly traced to the failure of electoral politics, the PDP held
hope for the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria.
Yet, its strength contains the ingredients of its weakness. As a rainbow coalition, it was an
amalgam of all-comers. There was no attempt to use the factor of antecedents to sift
membership. The resultant effect is the emergence of some leaders who ordinarily should not
be admitted into a serious party. More embarrassing and depressing is the fact that some of
them hold offices that can make one equate them with the party.
Such a person is Governor Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State. Right from the beginning, he
comes across as an undisciplined party-man. He seems to have an inflated opinion, not only of
his popularity in his state of Abia, but of an erroneous position in Nigerian history. He plays
all forms of pranks to reconfirm his fable of historical expectation. He situates his ambition on
very faulty premises and dishes out to himself over-seasoned salad of political relevance.
Ordinarily, one should not be bothered about such illusion except for the Yoruba adage which
counsels that if your neighbour chooses to eat dangerous insects and you refuse to caution
him, his restlessness at the dead of the night would disturb your own sleep.
Governor Kalu's latest antics relate to an alleged assassination threat on his life by Chief
Tony Anenih, the Chairman Board of Trustees of the ruling PDP. An accusation of murder or
threat of it is so grievous that the ingredients of such accusation must be unassailable. In
Kalu's case, he said his Deputy Governor, relayed to him the threat of assassination after
meeting casually with Chief Anenih. The Deputy Governor has since denied that he relayed
such a message. In fact, his memo to Governor Kalu on the chance meeting with Anenih does
not contain such an accusation.
But Kalu's bag of mischief and character assassination seems inexhaustible. He had earlier
accused the same Anenih of collecting over N300 billion Naira as minister without anything
to show for it. Official figures revealed that within the period of his ministerial responsibility,
Anenih collected a little over N200 billion. One would ordinarily expect a state governor to
speak with reliable facts and figures in honour of the respect of the office he holds. Even on
the assassination threat, Kalu added a cheap shot to seek the support of the Yoruba people by
alleging that Anenih said he would deal with him, the way he dealt with the late Chief Bola
Ige. It does not stand to sense within a short chance meeting to be so frivolous and flippant
like a chatter-box to let so loose. More so, when the meeting was in the presence of other
A simple dictum in law is that, he who asserts must prove. The onus of proof lies on Kalu.
But it seems to us that he has not, and cannot, discharge such a burden of proof. The problem
is compounded by the juvenile reliance on his mother anytime he chooses to run into
problems. When he engaged in an undue adversary relationship with President Obasanjo
sometime ago, it was his mother who was raising the olive branch for peace. In the current
one, the flag of surrender is being raised by his mother. Governor Kalu, as a public office
holder, must be told to grow or at worst, be made to grow. The image of a baby who causes
problems outside and runs to mama at home is repulsive at this stage of our political
The Hope believes that Governor Kalu's dangerous drama can heat up the polity and even
perhaps, dislocate it. The PDP as a political party should by now have an effective machinery
of disciplining its members irrespective of how highly placed. The PDP for now holds in its
hands the destiny of this country and the action or inaction of any of its members can truncate
the democratic experiment. This is why it must urgently cage Kalu and polish him to measure
up to the image of a matured state governor.
These usually present a catalogue of issues at the doorstep of readers for their judgment or
appraisal. Here, a writer only opens-up thought-provoking issues for readers' attention, by
identifying and explaining it and allowing the reader to proffer solutions. Here is a sample of
an explanatory editorial. Taylor and the Interpol
Since the United Nations-backed Special Court for the trial of those who bear the greatest
responsibility for the war crimes in Sierra Leone indicted and issued a warrant of arrest on
Charles Taylor of Liberia, several curious twists have dogged the development. The
indictment and the warrant of arrest were made on Taylor in June, last year, while he was still
a sitting Liberian president attending peace talks in Ghana on his country's civil war. His
status as a sitting president presented a dilemma for his arrest, for it would contradict the law
of nations to arrest an incumbent president. Of course, Nigeria, Ghana and other African
leaders in attendance at that meeting rightfully ignored the order and never arrested Taylor.
Subsequently, owing to the pressure for peace in Liberia, Nigeria, reportedly backed by the
United States' government, offered asylum to Taylor in order to remove him from the
Liberian political scene and create some prospects for peace. During his tour of four African
countries in July, last year, President George W. Bush was reported to have said that Nigeria's
offer of asylum to Taylor was timely and the best solution to the Liberian conflict.
In fact, the peace that is gradually returning to that country today is partly a function of the
removal of Taylor from Liberia via his asylum in Nigeria. But the curious twist and irony to it
all is that the same United States government implicitly flawed the asylum by offering a $2
million ransom on Taylor. Although the ransom on Taylor has been fruitlessly denied by the
US government, the International Police, Interpol, has followed the US' footsteps to issue a
warrant of arrest on Taylor. And since Interpol's own warrant of arrest, a British firm has
offered to kidnap Taylor in Nigeria.
Without prejudice to the merit of the Special Court's case against Taylor, what we caution
here is against using it to trample on Nigeria's independence, sovereignty and territorial
integrity. By putting a ransom on Taylor, and by subsequent warrant of arrest by the Interpol,
an encouragement is being given to international brigands to violate Nigeria's sovereignty by
illegally abducting Taylor against the will of the Nigerian government. Although Taylor has
become a sufficient albatross to the Nigerian government, great care should be taken to ensure
that he is not forcibly removed or abducted from Nigeria by any gang, whether sponsored by a
foreign government, organization or not. Meanwhile, the Nigerian government should
seriously spare a thought on how to dispose off the Taylor matter in order to bring these
undue wrangling and harassment of Nigeria to an end.
It is instructive to state that some communication experts consider types of editorials from
the perspective of the functions they perform. Uwakwe (2005: 111-112) captures the
following types of editorial:
1. Persuasive Editorial: This type attempts to influence the reader to a cause. It tries to
convince. It is frequently found in the dailies. To be able to present a good persuasive
editorial, the writer has to "play up" the two sides to the coin. This will show that even though
the writer has taken side, he is not out of prejudice because he has been deemed to have
carefully weighted all the issues before taking a stand.
2. Praise Editorial: Editors cannot sometimes help but pay compliments for achievements.
Such achievements could be individual or corporate.
3. Explanatory Editorial: This is also called the Expository Editorial. The purpose is to
provide answers to questions lurking in the minds of readers. This, the editor can achieve
through furnishing the reader with adequate information. This kind of editorial thrives on
some sorts of interpretation.
4. Attack Editorial: This type of editorial berates an individual, public figure or corporate
organisation for irresponsible behaviour. This kind of editorial protects the "watchdog" role of
5. Crusading Editorial: Some events demand that a news organ fight for a particular
cause. This is especially if the issue in question has generated some controversies and divided
opinions. Editorials in support of such issues are known to be crusading in nature.
TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT List and explain the different types of editorial you
SOURCING THE EDITORIAL MATERIALS
Editorial materials can be sourced primarily from topical events that are reported from the
mass media. The reported events must be captivating and of public interest (Ate, 2006). Other
sources are as follows:
· Internet: Editorial writers in a computer-minded society can browse through the net and
download relevant materials to write or enrich an editorial.
· Public and Printed Records: It is important to note that catalogues of records exist,
documenting society's doings and misdoings. The editorial or leader writer can reach out to
such records, e.g taxes, marriages, books, journals, government gazettes, biographies,
Assembly proceedings Constitutions, etc. Little wonder, an anonymous reporter in Botch and
Muller (1978:78) justified the importance of printed records thus: "Do anything from records
that you can, because the records will stand and they will be there when people run out on
· Social Functions: A good editorial writer is not supposed to be a social illiterate. He/she
must be rich in human relations and mix freely with people of different classes in order to get
insight into the goings in the society. Attending parties, conferences, seminars, etc with the
top shots in the society would help the editorial writer to understand their likes and dislikes
and that would assist the editorialist in making profound analysis concerning the people in
· Law Enforcement Officers: An editorial writer can get additional information on his
subject matter from the law enforcement officers like policemen, state security service men,
etc if the issue under probe demands their attention.
· Experts: Professional and highly technical issues would compel the editorial writer to
contact the appropriate experts. For instance, it will be necessary for an editorial writer to
clear a controversial legal issue from a lawyer before writing. That would prevent the editorial
writer from committing a costly mistake. Medical doctors, engineers, educationalists, etc can
also be contacted for scoops in their own disciplines by the editorial writer.
· Files: Here, you have things like press clips which are usually classified according to subject
matter for bibliographical exactitude. The editorial writer can also keep files of important
events and related materials carefully dated and arranged for easy referencing.
· Libraries: Books of all kind, thesauruses, dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, maps and
charts etc can be obtained from the library for use in the course of writing an editorial.
· Specialized Sources: E.g Embassies, Nigerian Office of Statistics, INEC, Population Bureau,
Review Questions: As an editorial writer, list the sources you can use in obtaining your data?.
QUALITIES OF GOOD EDITORIAL WRITERS
Writing an editorial is usually a challenging task which involves team work. It is a collective
efforts made by editorial board members. Editorials are assumed to be the back-bone of
serious minded newspaper houses. Editorial writers are expected to acquire certain skills and
qualities for effective discharge of their responsibilities. Being a corporate voice of
newspapers, an editorial should be written by experienced and tested professionals and not
just any body. This unit examines the ingredients of a good editorial writer.
Qualities of Good Editorial Writer
Never, can editorial writing be looked upon as a simple form of journalistic writing, that can
be carried out by anybody. Professionally, it is tasking and demands good skills and qualities
by whosoever aspires to be a writer. In order to live above water level, Ate (2007:8-10)
identifies certain qualities that a good editorial writer should possess. These are:
a) Intellectual curiosity: This refers to ability to probe issues from academic and critical point
b) Analytical mind: The editorial writer must be able to look deep at the pros and cons of an
issue and harmonize both the opposing and supportive variables in an editorial superstructure.
c) Mastery of language: An editorialist must have a good command of the language in which
the editorial is to be written. For an English speaking audience, for instance, a good command
of English language is a non-negotiating factor. It is, indeed, a child of necessity.
d) Care for details: In editorial writing, issues are supposed to be logically and meticulously
thrashed. It is only people who care for details that can unveil tiny but significant molecules
underlying any conceptual phenomenon under probe.
e) Good knowledge and professional skills of writing for the mass media: The fact that
somebody is a professor or doctorate degree holder in an area does not automatically make
him/her a good editorial writer. In fact, there are some academics that can make a
monumental mockery of editorial writing if they are not drilled in the art of writing for the
mass media. An editorial writer needs to understand the workings of mass media outfits
including the house style of the establishment he/she is writing for. The knowledge of writing
for the mass media is very crucial for any editorial writer.
f) Rational Reasoning: Editorial Writing is a serious-minded business for serious-minded
people. It is a house that cannot be built on bricks of emotionalism which cannot stand erect
in the sea of reasoning. Strong and profound editorials can only be built on rational and
logical raw materials mixed with concrete facts.
g) Knack for research: Editorial writing is research-oriented and therefore an editorial writer
must love the art and science of research. He/she must be a curious and searching being with
good leg work.
h) Nose for news: Since most editorials emerged from the controversies surrounding some
news stories, it is expedient for an editorial writer to have nose for news. The understanding
of what constitute "good" news by an editorial writer would in no small measure add a cubit
in the analysis and interpretation of news in form of an editorial.
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 1. Discuss the basic functions of editorial board members.
2. John Kuhe is an aspiring editorial writer. Educate him on the qualities of a good editorial
THE STRUCTURE OF AN EDITORIAL
A typical editorial has four parts. These are: Title, Introduction, Body and Conclusion. 1. The
Editorial Title: This defines or introduces the editorial. It should be active, arresting and less
wordy. Because titles serve as windows to editorials, they should not be dull, ambiguous or
misleading. Rather, they should be sharp, punchy and catchy. For composing a good editorial
title, Anim (1996:94) provided some useful hints.
· Some of the best titles are questions. e.g - Can NEPA improve?
· The who, what, why and how are useful in editorial heads. E.g - Who shot Ibru? - What a
country! - Who runs the economy: Central Bank or IMF? - How to stop the touts?
· Sometimes looking at common sayings, short quotes and adages may lead to a good title.
For example, "Arise O Compatriots" from the National Anthem can form the title of an
editorial calling for national solidarity. - "Who can bell the cat"? This adage can be the title of
an attack editorial on vacillation.
2. The Lead or "Intro": Next to the title is the lead which is simply the first paragraph of the
leader or editorial. Like the editorial title, the lead or introduction must be captivating and
juicy in order to compel the reader to read the entire editorial. A good leader must be able to
sustain the interest earlier aroused by a tantalizing title. Depending on the creative prowess
and experience of the editorial writer, any kind of lead, be it question lead, contrast lead, freak
lead, direct address lead, etc would perform the magic, if is well crafted. On a general note,
the introduction according to Anim (1996:95) contains:
(1) the news peg (2) the focus of the editorial (3) explores the tone presaged in the title
Sample of an editorial intro in an editorial titled
"Nigerian Universities and world ranking"
The latest worldwide universities' ranking shows that Nigerian universities have dropped out
of reckoning because of the poor quality and scope of research conducted by indigenous
academics. No Nigerian university featured on the world best 500 universities list. Indeed
from the African continent, only University of Cape Town, South Africa made the list. More
embarrassing was the fact that even among contending universities in Africa, the best
Nigerian university was ranked number 44, trading behind some universities in Kenya, South
Africa and Ghana. (Source: The Guardian, May 25, 2007, page 14)
3. The Body: This contains the meat and substance of the editorial. It is the place where the
props and cons of an issue are analyzed; conflicts of different colours are raised and resolved
in the body of an editorial. The body of the editorial provides a platform for editorial reaction.
Editorial reaction concerns itself with the stand or position of a newspaper on an issue. A
good editorial body must be coherent and logical in presentation and analyses of data. There
must be page unity and harmony of words and ideas in the body of the editorial. In a
persuasive editorial, Anim (1996:99) observes that this section contains "the argument
evidence of fairness, credibility, appeal to emotions, if need be, and knowledgeability,
comparisms, contrasts, statistics are contained in this section". Sample of the body of editorial
from an editorial "Nigerian Universities and world ranking" earlier cited.
The Nigerian academic is not lucky. He is entitled to attend international conferences about
once in two years. If he must attend other conferences, he is required to look for funding from
other sources. Reputable journals which were published in the universities of Ibadan, Lagos,
Nsukka and Ife in the past have all disappeared due to poor funding. For example, the
University of Ibadan used to be a reference point to international scholars of African history
and culture. Those were the halcyon days of professors Kenneth Dike, Festus Ade Ajayi and
Tekena Tamuno, etc. Indeed, Nigerian universities hosted academics and students from all
regions of the world. These days, only refugees come to Nigerian universities to study. While
others universities are expanding their library facilities, some federal universities have closed
down departmental libraries. Ironically, most of our libraries are stocked with old volumes,
with cramped-up spaces for the teeming population of students. Yale University has over one
hundred libraries. Harvard makes about $25bn from endowments alone. With these funds,
scholars have no problem whatsoever embarking on research and publishing their findings.
The Nigerian government ought to take education more seriously, (Source: The Guardian,
May 25, 2007).
4. Conclusion: Conclusion is the last part of an editorial. Usually, conclusion may be a re-
affirmation of earlier position or idea advocated by the editorial writer in the body of the
editorial. It may serve as an amplifier of a strong and potent view earlier put across in the
course of writing. In handling the conclusion of an editorial, dangling modifiers and
redundant words must be avoided.
TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT A good editorial writer must appreciate the importance
of all segments of an editorial. Discuss.
GUIDES FOR GOOD EDITORIAL WRITING
Editorial writing is tasking and needs proactive planning and creativity to accomplish its
mission. The major ingredients for determining editorial subjects are the policy and
philosophy of the newspaper organization. Duyile (2005:64) however provides certain guides
for good editorial writing. These are: 1) Get all your facts at your finger tips before making an
outline of the editorial. 2) Be exhaustive in your fact finding for purposes of objectivity. 3)
Let there be consistency in your paper's editorial opinions. 4) Be upright in your views and
aggressive in your expression to drive your point home. 5) A good and respectable newspaper
is not obscene-in its use of language in its editorials... Dignity in editorial is an indispensable
factor in this respect. The more dignified the editorial, the more respect a newspaper receives
from the society.
In what he considered as tips on editorial writing, Folarin (1998:36) xrayed the following:
· Select a current topic and stick to it, albeit looking at it from all relevant angles. · Find a
sound premise for your position and let your reasoning based on that premise be equally
· Make the editorial short and crisp. A long editorial is an aberration and must have a
strong justification such as a special occasion (a military coup, an independence
anniversary, a signing of a bilateral treaty, etc)
· The language of editorials, more than that of any other item in the paper, is expected to be
flawless, since the editorial is the "intellectual powerhouse of the newspaper."
Determinants of Editorial Subjects
Many factors may be considered in determining a subject for editorials. However, some
major ones as considered by Ate (2007:48-50) are as follows:
1. Ensure that the topic is relevant and timely
2. The topic chosen might be local but the treatment should not be parochial
3. Editorial topic should be drawn from socio-political and economic issues
4. Topics could be borne out of the desire to amaze or amuse.
Ensure that the Topic is Relevant and Timely: In order to achieve this, the editorialist
must factor into consideration the way and manner people converse with one another. In every
society, people converse basically in three ways (a) people talk about people (b) people talk
about things/events (c) people talk ideas. Editorials that focus on people discussing people are
likely going to be pedestrian in approach and may invoke the temptation of using foul or
abusive language. Such editorials are hardly profound as they provide avenues for character
assassination rather than opportunities for robust societal thinking. Editorials that deal with
people discussing things or events are a little bit advanced and more acceptable than the first
people talking about people. However, these editorials cannot stand erect in the market place
of ideas because they lack the fundamental oxygen that shapes public opinion or enliven
public discourse. The best kinds of editorial are those whose platforms are erected on ideas.
Ideas are vehicles that drive or move the society forward. Therefore, ideas oriented or
anointed editorials are the most profound and celebrated ones.
· Topic Might be Local but the Treatment should not be Parochial: In writing an
editorial master piece, a local, conservative and unusual topic could be raised but its treatment
should be sound and logical. The writer should be able to bring out issues from the local event
that are of national or international significance.
· Editorial Topics should be Drawn from Socio-Political and Economic Issues: The
above would enable the editorialist to juxtapose thorough background of the event with clear
illumination of the day's intelligence for the enrichment of public opinion, forecast the
probable outcome of some issues and pass a moral judgment on same.
· Topics could be Borne out of the Desire to Amaze or Amuse: There is no gainsaying
the fact editorial writing is a serious-minded affair. However, it is not all the times that the
writer would feed the audience with serious-minded stuff. There are some situations where an
editorial topic could be given light treatment to entertain the audience while feeding them
with concrete facts. This is done to ease their tension and dilute the stress that usually goes
with analysis of burning issues.
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE 1. State the guides to good editorial writing.
2. Enumerate factors for determining editorial subjects
HOW TO WRITE EDITORIALS (PRACTICAL)
Editorial writing is a task that requires diligence and creativity by a writer. It is not enough for
one to source for materials and arrive at a good editorial. A writer must be sound and logical
in presenting the data. The editorial topic should be current, meaningful and in-depth in all
ramifications. The editorial should reflect the socio-political and economic values of the
society. There is a great need for the writer to be disciplined in selection of words. Such a
writer should never loose focus of the ideas he/she is putting across in an editorial. The
language of the editorial should be simple but mature in style in order to show seriousness.
Every writer of editorial must/should endeavour to recognize the philosophy and editorial
policy of his newspaper house, while taking a position on an issue of public interest. Ossai
(2002) cited by Aneato and Onabajo (2007:64-65) identifies six stages in writing an editorial.
· The first stage is conducting research or the fact-finding stage.
An editorial written in a hurry without proper research could be shallow and woolly.
· The brainstorming exercise of an editorial conference is another stage.
· This is followed by outlining of points to be used in the writing.
· The next stage is forming opinion on the issue.
· Give another check on your materials to ensure accuracy.
· Finally, give a brief background, which should be concise and then say what you want to
accomplish intelligently and withdraw.
THE EDITORIAL AUDIENCE
All forms of writing generally have audiences. So, it is with editorials. There are three
categories of editorial audience. These are, the very skeptical audience, the very
selective audience, and the obscure or obstinate audience. A good knowledge of
editorial audience is important because it enables a writer to package his message to
the right readers with excellent impact.
Ate (2007:41-42) examined these audiences in details.
The Very Skeptical Audience: These are sophisticated audiences with high aura of
excellence. They question facts, figures, grammar, tone, style and content of every
editorial until they are satisfied. They are the learned and curious beings who are
conscious of their fundamental human rights. They believe in the power of public
opinion. The editorial writer should therefore recognize this group of audiences and
tailor his/her message to meet their standard and idiosyncrasies.
The Very Selective Audience: These are specialized audiences who care only about
what goes on in their chosen fields. They are addicted to the knowledge in their fields
or disciplines and are glued to same without bothering about things outside their areas
of interest or professional attachment.
For an editorial writer to meet the yearnings and aspirations of this group of people,
he/she has to segment his market (editorial) in tandem with the selectivity of this
Experts argue that an editorial can hardly be for everybody at the same time. The
editorial writer must mentally define his audience before writing his piece.
The Obscure or Obstinate Audience: These groups of people are blind critics.
Anything that is said outside their frame of reference by someone else is wrong. Their
worldview is very limited and does not go beyond their local assemblies where they
often feed on rumour mongering and worthless abracadabras of the day. These groups
of people are more of intellectual lumpen and they believe that holding an opinion is a
transgression against public order. They are mere chatter-boxes who read editorials not
to learn anything but to attack the writers with blind and worthless criticisms.
According to Iyorkyaa (1996:15), this group "does not belong to power. It does belong
to the group shaping Beer Parlour Policy (BPP)."
That means that this group of people is irresponsible and uncoordinated members of
Homo sapiens who are fond of analyzing public policies from the shallow and at time
tipsy In writing an editorial, the writer should out rightly jettison this group of people.
This is because, obstinate audience are no audience and cannot appreciate the robust
illumination of public policies and
case making stuff which editorials often deal with.
Having a mental picture of your audience as an editorial writer is a right step in a right
direction. Any editorialist who writes for "no audience" may end up embarking on a
wasted journalistic exercise.
SELF ASSESSMENT EXERCISE
1. Outline the stages in writing a good editorial? 2. Discuss all you know about
THE EDITORIAL PAGE (LAYOUT)
The editorial page of a newspaper carries the corporate elegance of the paper. It is a reservoir
of knowledge for readers as diverse audiences often drink from the editorial fountain of
knowledge on socio-political and economic issues. The editorial page mirrors the paper
because it reflects the corporate logo and identity of the newspaper. It satisfies the
yearnings of the audience in the market place of ideas
Importance of the Editorial Page
The editorial page is very important because it gives the paper editorial integrity and
credibility. It paves way for corporate journalism and contributes in no small measure to
formation of public opinion. But the question now is, what is the editorial page?
The editorial page, according to Ukonu (2005:17), "appears on a special page the editorial
page. The latter carries the newspaper's name, logo or totem and slogan and mission
statement." He stresses that whatever is stated on that page belongs to the newspaper as a
No reporter takes credit for editorials in terms of byline. Historically, the editorial was viewed
as an article written by the editor. Even today editorials are written by different writers, they
still assume to be the creation of the editor.
Different newspapers assign a special page for editorials. However, there are some times
when topical issues of public significance compel the editorial to occupy the front page of a
paper for the sake of prominence. Ukonu (2005:17) justifies this standpoint and the
· When an editorial issue is so important that it merits a front-page placement, usual practice
is to box it and clearly label it `Editorial'.
Most editorials whether front page or editorial page, are boxed, set in bigger body size,
wider column width, and separated by black lines (or a pica of white space in ruled
publications) instead of white
space or gutters.
Components of Editorial Page
The editorial page is packaged with some aesthetic and attention arresting devices in order to
win the affection of readers. Ukonu (2005:19-20) outlines some components of the editorial
page. These are:
· Editorial cartoons
· Pictures (photographs). In Nigeria, however, many editorials do not have pictures
· Letters to the editor
· Wider columns, white space (letting in air) can equally be used to direct readers' to the
· Typographical device can also be used to catch attention. Through the use of different
These are caricatures that are drawn by graphic artists to enliven the editorial page. Editorial
cartoons perform the journalistic role of informing, educating and entertaining the readers.
Ukonu (2005:29) captures the essence of editorial cartoons: · Cartoons are line drawings used
to inform and entertain. Cartoons amuse, yet they are veritable means of exposing social ills.
This is why cartoons are referred to as satire in drawing... Cartoons educate, irritate, tickle or
tease. They inform, reform and transform.
ETHICS OF EDITORIAL WRITING
In editorial writing, certain things are expected of editors, writers and other media
practitioners to adhere to in order to maintain high journalistic standards. They are as follows:
1. Editorial Independence: Decisions concerning the content of the news should be the
responsibility of professional journalists.
2. Accuracy and Fairness: The public has a right to know that factual, accurate, balanced
and fair reporting is the ultimate objective of good journalism and basis of earning public trust
A journalist should reframe from publishing inaccurate and misleading information. Where
such information has been inadvertently published, prompt correction should be made.
In the course of his duties, a journalist should strive to separate fact from conjecture and
3. Privacy: As a general rule, journalists should respect the privacy of individuals and their
families, unless it affects public interest. Information on the private life of an individual or
his family should only be published if it infringes on public trust. Publishing of such
information about an individual, as mentioned above should be deemed justifiable only if it is
directed at: a. Exposing crime or serious misdemeanor.
4. Decency : A journalist should dress and comport him or herself in a manner that conforms
to public taste. A journalist should refrain from using offensive, abusive or vulgar language.
A journalist should not present lurid details, either in word or picture, of violence, sexual acts,
abhorrent or horrid scenes. In cases involving personal grief or shock.
5. Discrimination :A journalist should refrain from making pejorative reference to a
person's ethnic group, religion, sex, or to any physical or mental illness or handicap.
6. Reward and Gratification :A journalist should neither solicit nor accept bribe,
gratification or patronage to suppress or publish information. To demand payment for the
publication of news is inimical to the notion of news as a fair, accurate, unbiased and factual
report of an event.
7. Violence: A journalist should not present or report acts of violence, armed robbery, terrorist
activities or vulgar display of wealth in a manner that glorifies such acts in the eyes of the
8. Plagiarism A journalist should not copy wholesale, or in part, other people's work without
9. Copyright: Where a journalist reproduces a work, be it in print, broadcast, art work or
design, proper acknowledgement should be accorded by national and international laws
10. Children and Minors
A journalist should not identify, either by name or picture, or interview children under the
age of 16 who are involved in cases concerning sexual offences, crimes and rituals or
witchcraft either as victims, witness or defendants.
11. Access to Information
A journalist should strive to employ open and honest means in the gathering of information.
Exceptional methods may be employed only if public interest is at stake.
A journalist should, therefore, avoid paying for information, except public interest so
12. National Interest
A journalist should use his position to enhance national unity, public good and national
13. Social Responsibility
A journalist should promote human rights, democracy, peace and international understanding.
TUTOR-MARKED ASSIGNMENT Enumerate some crucial ethics of editorial writing.
38 of 38 pages
- Quote paper
- Apuke Destiny Oberiri (Author), 2016, Lecture Notes on Editorial Writing, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/338528