Newspaper editorials play an important role in democratic societies. The editorial and opinion page in major newspapers provides a public forum in which ideas, political issues and policies, and other topics can be discussed and debated. Editorials are used to argue for a position from a particular point of view. For editorial and opinion pages to perform their function well in promoting democratic debate and discussion, the reader needs to develop the ability to critically read and assess the claims put forth in the editorial. Editorials have the potential for spreading untruths and misinformation if they are read and assimilated without reflection. If you find fault with an editorial, write a critical analysis and submit it to the newspaper.
Carefully read the editorial twice. Read one time through to get a general feel for the content and tone of the editorial. Write down your basic impression of the editorial based on the initial reading. Read it a second time, paying attention to the details.
Compartmentalize the different parts of the editorial into a list. The list should include (1) the primary topic or topics addressed, (2) statistics and facts claimed by the editorial writer, (3) a summary of the arguments the writer uses to support the thesis and (4) a summary of the ideological perspective or point of view adopted by the writer. The purpose of an editorial is to argue about an issue from a particular point of view.
Scrutinize the elements of the editorial. Begin the analysis by analyzing the facts and statistics used in the editorial. Consider whether the statistics or facts are correct, complete, properly interpreted and so forth. Examine the arguments set forth in the editorial. The author's conclusions should follow from the premises of the argument. Determine if the premises the author used are legitimate or convincing. Finally, weigh the overall character of the editorial. The author should make a persuasive case for her point of view, even if your disagree with it.
Write a rough draft of the analysis. Use the analytic notes from Step 3 to write the analysis. Develop your criticisms and own point of view by carefully reviewing the notes. Writing the rough draft helps clarify the essential points of the analysis. Begin with a strong thesis statement such as "The recent editorial concerning X is misguided on three essential points." List the points where you think the author is misguided. Give the reasons why you think the author's argument is flawed and present your own solution to the problem.
Write the final draft of the analysis. Include the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph. Include the title of the article, the name of the author, the newspaper the editorial appeared in and the date of the editorial. Outline the essential argument and points of the analysis in the introductory paragraph. Write the specific details of the analysis in the main body. The length of the analysis depends on the context of the paper. Write a concluding paragraph that summarizes the essential points.
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