The Art and Practice of Editorial Writing

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Presentation given by Dan McCaleb at the 2012 Illinois Collegiate Press Association conference.

Presentation given by Dan McCaleb at the 2012 Illinois Collegiate Press Association conference.

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  • 1. Dan McCalebEditor, Northwest HeraldCrystal Lake, IL
  • 2.  Dan McCaleb  Reporter, The Daily Advertiser/Daily Iberian 1992-1996 New Iberia, La.  Metro Editor, TDA 1992-1996  News Editor, TDA 1997-1999 New Iberia, La.  Editor, Kokomo Tribune 1999-2004 Kokomo, Ind.  Managing Editor, Northwest Herald 2004-2009 Crystal Lake, IL  Editor, Northwest Herald 2009-Present
  • 3.  What are they and why do they matter?
  • 4.  What are they and why do they matter? What does institutional view mean, and how does that affect a newspapers editorial page?
  • 5.  What are they and why do they matter? What does institutional view mean, and how does that affect a newspapers editorial page? What are the newspapers core values?  Editors come and go. Core values generally do not.
  • 6.  Whats the difference between a personal column and a newspaper editorial?
  • 7.  Whats the difference between a personal column and a newspaper editorial? What other opinions matter?  Letters from readers  Guest columns from government officials, community leaders, and others  Syndicated columnists
  • 8.  John Rung - Publisher Dan McCaleb - Editor Kevin Lyons - News Editor Cyndi Wyss - Community Editor Eric Olson - Sports Editor (former community editor and news reporter)
  • 9.  What are the components?  Clarity of thought (editorial should be well reasoned, where idea collaboration among staff/editorial board is helpful)  Pungency of phrase (the basis of persuasive writing has to be good writing)  Statement of a need or expectation in concrete terms as a basis for action (call to action important, whether its to implore official action, or to encourage the public to get involved)  Fostering appreciation of humanitys limitations, capability for folly, and potential for glory (and never forget the importance of your own humility; recognize legitimate arguments that are contrary to your own; dont ignore the very real possibility that you might be wrong)
  • 10.  "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus"  Francis P. Church  The Sun (New York), Sept. 21, 1897 "We were wrong, wrong, wrong"  Charles Overby  Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger, September 1982
  • 11.  Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 23, 2012  “Why we will no longer endorse in elections”  "We have come to doubt the value of candidate endorsements by this newspaper or any newspaper, especially in a day when a multitude of information sources allow even a casual voted to be better informed than ever before.“ Chicago Tribune, Jan. 24, 2012  “Why we endorse: You have to make decisions. The Tribune tries to help”  “Newspapers have a unique role as public citizen. They did in 1860 and they do today. It would be an abdication to say what we think should be done on an array of issues every day – and then take a vow of silence about who is most likely to advance those goals.”
  • 12.  Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 23, 2012  “Why we will no longer endorse in elections”  "We have come to doubt the value of candidate endorsements by this newspaper or any newspaper, especially in a day when a multitude of information sources allow even a casual voted to be better informed than ever before.“ Chicago Tribune, Jan. 24, 2012  “Why we endorse: You have to make decisions. The Tribune tries to help”  “Newspapers have a unique role as public citizen. They did in 1860 and they do today. It would be an abdication to say what we think should be done on an array of issues every day – and then take a vow of silence about who is most likely to advance those goals.”
  • 13.  Select a topic. Form an institutional view.
  • 14.  Remember the key components:  Clarity of thought (editorial should be well reasoned, where idea collaboration among staff/editorial board is helpful)  Pungency of phrase (the basis of persuasive writing has to be good writing)  Statement of a need or expectation in concrete terms as a basis for action (call to action important, whether its to implore official action, or to encourage the public to get involved)  Fostering appreciation of humanitys limitations, capability for folly, and potential for glory (and never forget the importance of your own humility; recognize legitimate arguments that are contrary to your own; dont ignore the very real possibility that you might be wrong)
  • 15.  Dan McCaleb Northwest Herald dmccaleb@shawmedia.com www.nwherald.com