Every morning, Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Joe Capehart looks forward to separating the wheat from the chaff. As an opinion writer for the The Washington Post, the job gives him a lot of freedom, and along with it comes immense responsibility.
I listened to Joe’s take on opinion writing earlier this evening in Washington, D.C. and here are a few key points:
- The real opinion writer gets abundant freedom to look at different sides of a story. Then, comes the hard part. They have to squeeze out valid points and frame an opinion that makes sense to their readers.
- In opinion writing, taking sides is a difficult choice. One needs to argue the facts before selecting a path. Sometimes, opinion writers find that both sides have good points and in that case they will need to present both sides of the argument.
- Opinion writers work a lot like reporters-they have their news sources, they gather facts and data.
- So, what separates a straight news journalist from an opinion writer? Opinion writers get the freedom to go beyond the 5W’s and H (who, what when, where, why and how?).
- Will straight news writers like becoming opinion writers? Sometimes, but with much difficulty.
- Opinion writing plays a critical role as it often helps shape the politics of the day.