Bulletin photos by Kareya Saleh

The panel on ‘The power of editorials,” from left: Curtiss Clark, editor of The Newtown (Conn.) Bee; Morgan McGinley, retired editorial page editor for The Day of New London, Conn.; Carolyn Lumsden, opinion editor at The Hartford (Conn.) Courant; moderator James Campanini, editor at The Sun of Lowell, Mass.

Panelists’ advice:
Best editorials are fearless,
but mindful of community

By Pranav Temburnikar
Bulletin Staff

Editorial writers have to be fearless in giving their opinions and maintaining their independence as they represent the voice of their newspaper, said James Campanini.

“If you are criticizing someone, be ready to take it as well,” said Campanini, editor at The Sun of Lowell, Mass., during a workshop Saturday, Feb. 20, during the New England Newspaper and Press Association’s winter convention in the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.

Campanini moderated the workshop, titled “The power of editorials,” which focused on the qualities that make up a persuasive editorial.

He and three other panelists described editorial writing as a craft. For the Sun, which runs editorials daily, editorials provide the newspaper’s views on different topics, Campanini said.

“We have got one shot every day to say something, and I say we take it,” Campanini said.

Carolyn Lumsden, opinion editor at The Hartford (Conn.) Courant, said editorials should not have same tone every day; rather, they should say something new and unexpected.

Editorials “should ignite minds of the readers,” Lumsden said. “Just be a trustworthy voice that they want to listen to.”

Editorials need to emphasize their main point in the beginning rather than waiting until the end, to make sure that they do not lose their audience, Lumsden said. Editorial writers can choose to present the other side of their opinion to give both sides of the issue, she said.

Editorial writers have to know their readership, said Morgan McGinley, retired editorial page editor for The Day of New London, Conn. They should be good reporters and writers, and delve into their community to understand the issues that affect it, he said.

Campanini said walking around and observing things in the community can spark ideas for editorials.

Editorial writers should have independence in choosing topics they want to write about, and the topics should not be dictated by advertisers, McGinley said. For example, the Day ran an editorial on a car company after it found that the company hired people with ties to organized crime. After the editorial ran, the company decided to cancel its advertisements with the Day.

McGinley said writers’ first responsibility should be toward readers, not advertisers.

Curtiss Clark, editor of The Newtown (Conn.) Bee, said that in representing people’s emotions in editorials, writers must be careful to understand their readers, such as in dealing with church issues in a community of church-goers.

“You do not want to beat up people’s emotions unnecessarily,” Clark said.

But writers could take that chance in situations where it is unavoidable, he said.

In response to a question from the audience about finding ideas for editorials, Lumsden suggested creating an advisory board of readers that could propose topics of interest in the community.

“It (an advisory board) would be enormously useful” in helping editorial writers learn something new about their community, Lumsden said.

Audience members listen to the panelists’ advice on how to write better editorials.

POSTED 3/7/16


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