Creativity Editorial What is an Editorial? Its Purpose and Types

What is an Editorial? Its Purpose and Types

An editorial, often found in newspapers or magazines, serves as a platform for expressing viewpoints and stimulating thought. Fundamentally, it’s an opinion-based commentary to influence public opinion or promote critical thinking.

Various editorials exist, including ‘explainers’ that provide insight into complex issues, ‘critiques’ that evaluate policies or decisions, and ‘persuasive pieces’ that seek to sway readers toward a specific stance. As a powerful communication tool, editorials significantly impact societal discourse.

Understanding Editorials: An Introduction

Editorials represent a fundamental aspect of print and digital journalism, serving as critical platforms for expressing opinions and influencing public sentiment. So, what is an editorial? In essence, it’s a piece of writing typically appearing in a newspaper or magazine that expresses the views and opinions of the publication or its editorial team.

The Purpose of Editorials

Editorials are essential in shaping discussions around significant social, political, or cultural issues. They present an informed, well-argued perspective intended to prompt reflection, discussion, and, sometimes, action among readers. Moreover, they have the potential to influence policy-makers or the direction of public debate directly.

What is an Editorial?

An editorial can be found in almost any publication that includes opinion pieces. Traditionally, they are a staple of newspapers, typically occupying a specific section. However, with the advent of digital media, editorials have expanded beyond the traditional print platforms. Today, they can be found in online news outlets, blogs, and social media platforms where individuals or groups seek to express and disseminate their views.

The Role of Editorials

The significance of editorials can be observed in their role in the broader context of journalism and society. They are not merely opinion statements; they represent the collective voice of a publication, often informed by thorough research and a deep understanding of the subject matter. Editorials make a publication’s identity, values, and stance on various issues apparent.

Informing, Persuading, Entertaining

Furthermore, the purpose of editorials extends beyond expressing an opinion. They also seek to inform readers, presenting facts in a new light or drawing attention to overlooked issues. Editorials often attempt to persuade, presenting arguments that sway the reader’s opinion. Additionally, they can entertain, utilizing humor, satire, or narrative to make their point more compelling.

Stimulating Thoughtful Discourse

Moreover, editorials also stimulate critical thought and discourse. They invite readers to engage with different perspectives, consider new ideas, or reconsider established beliefs. They catalyze discussion and debate, fueling the democratic process by encouraging active engagement with the day’s issues.

Understanding what an editorial is involved more than knowing its definition. One must also comprehend its role, presence across media, and multifaceted purpose in shaping discussions and informing public opinion.

Historical Development of Editorials

The history of editorials is intrinsically tied to the evolution of journalism and the media industry. As the media’s primary vehicle for expressing a collective opinion, editorials have a rich history that reflects the changing face of societies and the various technological shifts that have taken place over centuries.

History of Editorials – Origin

The roots of editorials can be traced back to the 18th century, coinciding with the emergence of the public press. At this time, little pieces were often unsigned and blended seamlessly with news content. These writings, precursors to modern editorials, served to rally public sentiment during significant events like the American and French revolutions.

Editorial’s Evolutionary Leap

The 19th century marked the true birth of the editorial as a distinct journalistic form. Newspapers expanded, and the separation between news and opinions became more pronounced. The concept of an editorial “voice” or “stance” became more critical, with editors and editorial boards leveraging this platform to shape public opinion and influence policy-making.

Broadcasting Editorial Transformation

The 20th century saw significant transformations in the editorial form. The rise of broadcast media introduced new platforms for editorial content. Radio and television editorials brought the genre to broader audiences while demanding new content presentation approaches. The emergence of investigative journalism also influenced editorials, with data-driven arguments becoming more prevalent.

Digital Editorial Revolution

The advent of the internet in the late 20th century, followed by the proliferation of social media in the 21st, has dramatically altered the landscape of editorials. Digital platforms have expanded the reach of editorials, enabling instant global dissemination. Moreover, the interactivity of these platforms has encouraged reader participation, fostering dialogues instead of monologues. Blogging platforms have democratized the editorial space, allowing anyone to voice their opinion and potentially reach large audiences.

In the current media landscape, the essence of the editorial remains a platform for opinion and influence. However, the form and delivery of editorial content continue to evolve, shaped by technological innovation and changing audience expectations. Editorials now incorporate multimedia elements and data visualization, employ SEO techniques, and adapt to shorter attention spans.

The history of editorials, therefore, is more than merely a linear narrative. It’s a dynamic, ongoing story that reflects the changing nature of media, society’s evolving needs, and the persistent human urge to express opinions and influence others.

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The Core Purpose of an Editorial

At its core, an editorial is a potent tool for communication and influence, and understanding the purpose of an editorial involves delving into the intricate roles it plays within the media and society.

Purpose of an Editorial


First and foremost, an editorial is a means of expressing an opinion. However, unlike a personal column or a blog post, an editorial represents the collective voice of a newspaper, magazine, or any other media outlet. It’s a platform where a publication communicates its stand on various issues, be they social, political, economic, or cultural. This function can be observed in the editorials of leading newspapers such as The New York Times or The Guardian, known for their thoughtful, well-argued stances on significant global issues.


Secondly, an editorial has a powerful influence on readers’ minds. An editorial can shape public opinion by presenting facts, expert insights, and persuasive arguments. It is not just about stating a viewpoint but backing it up with solid reasoning and compelling narratives. For instance, editorials in The Wall Street Journal have been instrumental in shaping economic policies and financial perspectives due to their meticulous analysis and persuasive narrative.


Furthermore, an essential purpose of an editorial is to stimulate discussion and debate. In doing so, they play a crucial role in fostering democratic values and processes. An editorial doesn’t just express an opinion; it invites readers to consider, respond, and engage in a broader conversation. This purpose is visible in the editorials of The Washington Post, where complex policy matters are presented to readers in a manner that encourages thought and discussion.

Critical Thinking

Lastly, an editorial aims to promote critical thinking. It doesn’t merely present a conclusion; it outlines an argument and invites readers to follow it, assess its validity, and form their own opinion. For example, Scientific American’s editorials, while focused on scientific topics, consistently encourage readers to assess scientific developments and their implications critically.

The purpose of an editorial extends far beyond being a vessel for opinion. It’s an instrument of influence, a catalyst for discussion, a promoter of critical thinking, and a key player in the democratic discourse.

Types of Editorials: The Explainer

Understanding the unique roles different types of editorials play in the journalistic realm allows us to appreciate their distinct nuances and values. Among these, the ‘explainer’ is a prominent form of editorial content that merits specific attention.

What are Editorial Guidelines

Clarifying Complex Topics

The explainer editorial is aptly named for its role in elucidating complex topics. It aims to make often intricate or nuanced issues accessible and understandable to the average reader. As such, the focus of explainer editorials is primarily on providing information in a way that guides readers to a detailed understanding of the issue.

Maintaining Editorial Integrity

One important aspect of writing explainer editorials lies in adhering to editorial guidelines. These guidelines ensure that the editorial maintains a clear, consistent voice, accurately presents information, and upholds the highest standards of journalistic integrity. These standards typically involve fact-checking, citation of sources, ensuring balance and fairness, and avoiding plagiarism.

Explainer’s Structured Approach

The structure of an explainer is usually straightforward and organized. It starts with a brief introduction of the topic, followed by a thorough explanation presented in an accessible language. The arguments are carefully structured and backed by credible data and evidence. Finally, the explainer ends with a conclusion summarising the issue and often indicates where the publication stands.

Decoding Complex Subjects

Take, for example, The New York Times ‘The Upshot’ or Vox’s ‘Explainers.’ These segments are dedicated to breaking down complex subjects — political turmoil, climate change, economic phenomena, or complex legal cases. In these pieces, we see the use of infographics, statistics, and expert interviews to clarify topics that might be otherwise impenetrable for most readers.

Leveraging Multimedia Enhancement

Moreover, in the digital age, explainer editorials are frequently accompanied by multimedia content like charts, videos, and interactive graphs to enhance understanding. A case in point would be the comprehensive explainers from BBC News or The Guardian, which often use visuals and interactive elements to convey complexities.

Explainer editorials serve a crucial role in today’s information-dense world. They help demystify complex issues, promoting informed citizenship and understanding. Adhering to stringent editorial guidelines, they ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information, making them a trusted source of knowledge for readers navigating the often complicated landscape of current affairs.

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Types of Editorials: The Critique

Critique editorials are a specific genre within the broad umbrella of editorial writing. Characterized by critical evaluation and rigorous analysis, these pieces offer an in-depth look at policies, decisions, events, or public figures, assessing their implications, merits, and shortcomings.

The purpose of critique editorials is twofold. First, they provide readers with insightful evaluation and perspective, making sense of complex or contentious issues. Second, through this critique, they influence public opinion and spark dialogue, driving engagement with the topic.

Example of Editorial

A quintessential example of a critique editorial can be found in the op-ed pages of publications like The New York Times or The Washington Post. For instance, consider an editorial that critiques a new health policy. Such a piece would detail what the policy entails and critically evaluate its potential effects on various stakeholders, consider its feasibility, and compare it to other existing or proposed solutions. It might also question the motives or strategies of the policymakers, contributing to a more thorough understanding and discourse around the issue.

Another instance could be a critique of a significant event, such as a high-profile trial or election. An editorial of this kind might dissect the proceedings, question the outcomes or the processes, and draw attention to broader implications for justice or democracy. The Guardian and The Economist frequently publish such critique editorials, offering readers a nuanced understanding of global events.

Critique editorials require a careful balance between objectivity and subjectivity. While they certainly express the author’s viewpoint or the publication, they must be grounded in facts, fair in their assessment, and compelling in their arguments. This blend of critique and analysis lends these editorials their power and impact.

In shaping public opinion and stimulating debate, critique editorials are pivotal in our media landscape. They inform readers and challenge them to think critically, fostering a more informed and engaged public. As such, the critique editorial is a key example of the power and potential of editorial writing.

Types of Editorials: The Persuasive Piece

The persuasive editorial model holds a special place within the world of journalism due to its objective: to convince readers to embrace a specific stance. More than just sharing an opinion, the aim is to motivate the reader to action or change through a well-reasoned argument and impassioned rhetoric.

Persuasive Editorial Model

In the persuasive editorial model, the structure is paramount. The piece begins by stating the issue and the publication’s stand. It then provides a series of arguments that support this viewpoint, each supported by facts, statistics, or expert testimonies to ensure credibility. A good persuasive editorial often anticipates potential counterarguments and addresses them preemptively, showcasing a comprehensive understanding of the topic. Finally, the piece concludes with a powerful call to action, seeking to rally readers to the advocated cause or viewpoint.

Example of Editorial Model

An excellent example of this editorial model is often found in The Washington Post or The New York Times op-ed pages. For instance, a persuasive editorial may argue for stronger environmental legislation when discussing a hot-button issue like climate change. The piece would lay out compelling evidence of climate change, highlight the inadequacies of current laws, and present the benefits of stricter regulations. It would then call on readers to support this cause by lobbying their representatives or supporting certain organizations.

In the digital age, persuasive editorials have also found a home on online platforms like Medium or The Huffington Post, where writers aim to sway public opinion on various issues. The persuasive power of these editorials is not just in their words but also in the discussions they incite and the actions they inspire among readers.

The persuasive editorial model represents a potent blend of information, persuasion, and activism. These editorials have the potential to inspire change, shape public discourse, and influence policy-making. As such, they exemplify the power of the press as an observer of society and an active participant in shaping its future.

Laptop being used to write an editorial.

Writing an Editorial: Key Guidelines and Techniques

Writing an effective editorial is an art that requires a balance of passion, precision, and persuasion. Whether you are writing an explainer, a critique, or a persuasive piece, there are key guidelines and techniques to follow that enhance the impact of your editorial. Here’s how to write an editorial that is compelling and influential.


Firstly, research is paramount. An editorial is built upon facts, expert opinions, and relevant data. It’s important to understand the topic, including different perspectives and counter-arguments thoroughly. This information forms the backbone of your editorial and lends credibility to your viewpoint.


Secondly, crafting an engaging introduction is crucial. The introduction should present the topic and indicate your stance. It should be compelling, making the reader want to continue. A powerful quote, a thought-provoking question, or a striking fact can be effective hooks.


Next, present your arguments. Each argument should be distinct and presented in its paragraph for clarity. Start with the most compelling argument, as it sets the tone and draws the reader’s attention. Support each argument with relevant facts or statistics, making sure they directly support your stance. Anticipate potential counter-arguments and address them within your piece. This shows a comprehensive understanding of the issue and helps to persuade readers.


Remember to maintain a consistent tone throughout your editorial. A consistent tone helps carry your voice and perspective effectively, whether formal, conversational, or somewhere between. Use persuasive language, but avoid jargon and overly complex sentences. Your goal is to be understood and to persuade, not to confuse.


Lastly, conclude powerfully. Your conclusion should not merely summarize your arguments but should reinforce your stance and evoke a response from the reader. This could be a call to action, a question that provokes thought, or a powerful statement that leaves a lasting impression.

Keep in mind the editorial should adhere to the ethical guidelines of journalism – accuracy, fairness, and balance. While an editorial is an opinion piece, it should be grounded in truth and respect for diverse viewpoints.

Writing an editorial is an opportunity to influence public opinion and inspire change. With these guidelines and techniques, you can write a compelling editorial that resonates with readers and leaves a lasting impact.

The Impact and Power of Editorials in Society

Editorials influence the media landscape with their potent blend of facts, perspectives, and persuasive argumentation. They contribute substantially to shaping public opinion, steering policy-making, fostering democratic dialogue, and promoting societal advancements. The power of editorials is such that they reflect societal trends and often help shape them.

Democratic Illumination

An integral part of any publication’s editorial calendar, these thoughtfully crafted pieces provide a platform where voices are heard, ideas are exchanged, and critical issues are brought to the forefront. By illuminating complex issues, they contribute to a more informed and engaged citizenry, an essential component of a functioning democracy.

Policy Influence

For instance, editorials critically examining policies can shape public opinion, influencing policy-making. By presenting a reasoned critique of a policy, they can expose its potential flaws or shortcomings, prompting a call for revisions or even leading to a policy’s retraction. On the other hand, editorials that endorse certain policies can help build public support for them, paving the way for their successful implementation.

Discourse Spark

Editorials can also spark public discourse on contentious issues. A nuanced presentation of different perspectives can promote understanding and tolerance among readers with diverse viewpoints. They can provide a platform for voices that may be underrepresented or overlooked, highlighting social injustices or disparities and calling for change.

Societal Advancements

The power of editorials is most apparent in their ability to stimulate societal advancements. Through their critique and persuasion, editorials can rally public support for significant causes – civil rights, environmental protection, or education reform. They can raise awareness of societal issues, bring them to the public’s attention, and inspire collective action.

Digital Expansion

Moreover, the digital revolution has expanded the reach and impact of editorials. They can now reach a global audience in real-time, increasing their potential to influence opinion and instigate change. The interactivity of digital media also allows readers to engage with the content, fostering a two-way dialogue that can enhance understanding and drive collective action.

Editorials, woven into the fabric of the media’s editorial calendar, are not just opinion pieces. They are potent tools for influencing opinion, shaping policy, promoting dialogue, and inspiring societal advancements. The impact and power of editorials are a testament to their vital role in our society.


How has the editorial format evolved historically? 

Editorials have evolved from simple opinion pieces in print newspapers to complex narratives that utilize digital media‘s interactivity and reach. Technological advancements have significantly influenced how editorials are crafted and disseminated, enabling them to engage readers innovatively.

What is the primary purpose of an editorial? 

The main purpose of an editorial is to present a viewpoint, influence readers’ opinions, stimulate discussion, and promote critical thinking. It also serves as a tool for expressing the collective voice of a publication.

How can I write an effective editorial?

An effective editorial involves thorough research, crafting an engaging introduction, presenting convincing arguments, maintaining a consistent tone, and concluding powerfully. It’s crucial to maintain journalistic integrity by fact-checking and providing balanced viewpoints.

How do editorials impact society? 

Editorials significantly shape public opinion and policy-making, fostering democratic dialogue and promoting societal advancements. By illuminating complex issues and promoting informed discourse, they contribute to a more informed citizenry and can inspire collective action.

What is the structure of a persuasive editorial? 

A persuasive editorial typically starts by stating the issue and the publication’s stance, followed by supporting arguments backed by facts or statistics. It may address potential counterarguments and concludes with a call to action.