Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rosemary's Visit: Editorials Help Illuminate

Before this class, I never read editorials.

Never thought about them.

Now, not only am I expected to read and write them, but since the beginning of this course, I’ve felt challenged as a journalist like I never had before. Everything I have been taught until now, the “do’s and don’ts” of responsible reporting, seem to have gone out the window.

I have been formally introduced to the World of Editorial Writing. Since then, I’ve felt like a dizzy rat trying to clumsily maneuver its way through a maze. I wasn’t sure which steps to take first, nor was I sure which path(s) would lead me to my destination- which was and remains to be a “good editorial.” I was ignorant of the factors that make up a good editorial.

Luckily for me, Rosemary Goudreau, former editorial page editor for the Tampa Tribune, visited my Critical Writing class last week to share her insight and knowledge about editorial writing.

Goudreau, who graduated from the University of Florida, reported for the Tampa Tribune between 1977 and 1981. She also worked for The Orlando Sentinel and The Miami Herald. Goudreau was also the managing editor for the Cincinnati Enquirer before she rejoined the Tampa Tribune.

Goudreau described what makes a good editorial.

“It has something to say that moves people-internally- and moves people to want to take action,” she said.

Her statement helped me realize the great power and influence that editorial writing holds. I would love, by the end of the semester, to be able to write an editorial that will spur readers to action…or to at least seriously reconsider and challenge their own thoughts about the issue.

Goudreau also mentioned that a good editorial helped illuminate- it is not confined to just facts.

A good editorial, she went on, does not have the word “I” in it. This makes sense to me. Placing “I” within an editorial would seem as if the writer deems herself a know-it-all. We don’t want that. We want the readers to understand our point of view, because we have laid it out for them to comprehend where we are coming from.

Her voice, Goudreau explained, is the second voice.

“It has facts, it has energy, it has emotion,” she said.

These three factors are what helped me edit my first editorial. I wanted to inform with facts, write with energy and make readers feel emotion.

Goudreau reminded us of the importance of this class. It is to teach us how to communicate an opinion with clarity, precision. Also, to know how to communicate effectively- which she said, not many organizations know how to do.

For that, she is grateful of course. She said this gives her much hope that she will find much employment. If I were to ever write editorials full-time, I guess that’s a good thing for me too.

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