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Op-Ed Assignment Directions: Each of you has the ability to create change not only through your actions but through your words Every major newspaper has an “Op/Ed” page, which is short for “Opinion/Editorial.” An editorial is a short essay that gives a writer’s opinion about a timely event or issue. Many times, during the history of our country, editorials have paved the way for great changes. During the course of this term, you will write five “op-eds” each focusing on that week’s issue.
A successful op-ed will complete four main tasks:
1) Write an introduction (or ‘lede’ in newspaper-speak) of 3-5 sentences that briefly and precisely introduces the issue at hand and the specific argument you will make in response to this issue. The lede should entice the reader into reading the full op-ed and tell them why they should pay attention to the op-ed’s topic.
2) The body of an op-ed should be 3 – 6 paragraphs long and present the evidence for the “op-ed’s” argument.The paragraphs here should be longer than the introduction and conclusion paragraphs, but shorter than the typical paragraphs in a formal academic essay. This is the part of the op-ed where the author discusses specific examples and present evidence from that week’s course material to support the argument. While the “op-ed” aims to persuade, there is no room for filler, vague statements, or blanket moralizing (even if these may be commonly used in some of the “op-eds” published in national newspapers) – use the maxim “show, don’t tell.”
3) The organization of the argument is crucial. Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that describes the claim the argument will make.
4) A concise conclusion and a walk-off. The conclusion summarizes what has been examined and why the reader should care about it. A conclusion should be about 2-5 sentences long. In some cases, authors will set off one sentence into its own paragraph for emphasis. The walk-off is the ‘what is to be done?’ part of an “op-ed.” Every “op-ed” should look ahead and offer a possible approach for next steps to address the issue at hand. A walk-off should be 1-2 paragraphs and 3-5 sentences long.
Please follow the instructions on the next page on how to post your editorial for discussion.
Your editorial should be between 300 and 350 words.
(Please note word count in parenthesis at end of your piece.)
Use a simple 12-point font double spaced.
You must make at least 3 direct references to this week’s course material in your editorial. Failure to do this will result in a drop-in letter grade or a loss of ten points.
Sources to be used in the essay:
Americans have long debated the boundaries of free speech, from what is and isn’t protected by the First Amendment to discussions about “political correctness” and, more recently, “cancel culture.” The internet has amplified these debates and fostered new questions about tone and tenor in recent years. This week we will examine this issue and the surrounding debate.
Americans and ‘Cancel Culture’: Where Some See Calls for Accountability, Others See Censorship, Punishment