What should an op-ed article look like?

In order to talk about what an opinion and editorial article should look like, we must first discuss why such articles are worth writing in the first place. In the age of Facebook and Twitter, where you can hit a few buttons and share your opinion with about 600 of your closest friends and family, why do in-depth opinion and editorial articles matter?

Yesterday, I was scrolling through my Facebook and I came across two contradictory posts (as I always do). The first post questioned Trump’s administration and his ability to be president of the United States. The second post praised Trump’s immigration reform and his eagerness to keep America safe from terrorists.

On one level, these posts seem opposite. But I would like to argue that they are actually very similar. They both appeared to be opinions, the posts were about the same length and neither post contained sources, quotes or evidence to back up their claims. In other words, they were unconvincing.

I bring this up because I believe this is exactly why op-ed articles matter so much. Op-ed gives the author a chance to properly defend their position and reach a rather large and important audience—the Calvin community—and to engage and encourage this community to take action to make a change to their current lifestyle.

[People] write for the influence, for the chance to reach an audience, to say something that’s been bothering them, driving them crazy, something that no one else seems to be saying,” stated Trish Hall, an opinion editor for the New York Times.

Now we know why people want to write op-ed pieces, but how should they write them?

Focus on one topic and one topic only. You cannot fully describe and defend a position on a complex issue in one article. Instead, focus on a specific point and fully support and defend your point.

Your article should engage your audience, in this case, the Calvin community. This community includes faculty, staff, current students, alumni, parents, donors and so on. If your article is not engaging to a specific community, then no one will read it. Know your audience.

According to Duke University’s style guide, “an op-ed is not a news story that simply describes a situation; it is your opinion about how to improve matters…In an op-ed article you need to offer recommendations.”

Do not just state a problem; recommend how to fix a problem.

The op-ed section of Chimes exists to offer students a chance to make their voice heard. Do not let it go unused. Do not let this opportunity pass. Take advantage of this platform. If something is bothering you, write about it. If you do not think people are paying attention, educate them.

The staff here at Chimes invites you to join the conversation. Calvin College exists because of the student body, because of you. Make your voice heard, inspire your classmates and invite people to participate in the change.