Joe Capehart on Opinion Writing

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Opinion writers work a lot like reporters-they have their news sources, they gather facts and data.
  4. 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?).
  5. Will straight news writers like becoming opinion writers? Sometimes, but with much difficulty.
  6. Opinion writing plays a critical role as it often helps shape the politics of the day.



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