What is an opinion column?
Although it is also known as an opinion article, according to the format and the media in which it is integrated, it is a text based on the author’s opinion on a given topic, which is analyzed and interpreted in detail, expressing his position on it. This content can often be seen in magazines or newspapers, and is distinguished from the editorial article because it evidences the signature of the writer.
It is a text that is part of journalistic texts, in turn of non-literary texts and allows the author to express his point of view, which may or may not be aligned with the profile of the media in which the opinion column is published. Their value is high since they seek to convince the reader about the topic and the way in which the opinion is expressed.
Main characteristics of an opinion column
Let us now look at some distinctive features of this type of text that we can identify and that help us to differentiate it from other types of text. Its main characteristics are:
Purpose of the text
In the case of opinion columns, we are talking about a text whose purpose is the exposition of an author’s point of view, based on a series of arguments focused on a particular character, entity, situation or topic. To meet this objective, the opinion column allows the author to have the freedom to express his point of view and to lean towards the conviction of the target audience.
Interesting and important subject matter
One of the keys of this type of text has to do with the fact that it must be an interesting topic for the public, as well as develop an entertaining structure that allows the reader to approach the opinion from ideas that have a background research process and that reflect a deep knowledge about the event being explained. This is key because the topic must transmit, at the same time, credibility and veracity to fulfill its objective.
Diversity of topics
Another important feature of the opinion column is that the author can express himself on a wide variety of possible topics that have the potential to interest a large audience. In this sense, the text can talk about topics such as economy, culture, politics, society, art, sports, education, among others.
It is very important that at the time of writing an opinion column, the author has full knowledge or expertise on the topic to be developed, since his argumentation and point of view must be based on concrete, real and solidly supported ideas that give value to the expression of his opinion. In addition to this, the importance of their knowledge and/or specialty in the area, becomes one of the key requirements for its review and publication.
Unlike other types of text, especially in the journalistic field, the opinion column is one of the texts in which the information about the person who develops the text is issued. Thus, at the end of the column, it must be signed with the author’s real name and, to this extent, it is also available for refutations or approvals by the public.
Since the writer is free to express his opinion, he is also free to express his opinion in the form of his writing and writing style. This is important because, being identified, the author’s own characteristics are evident in the way he expresses his ideas. Therefore, it is essential that those who start writing or write this type of texts have the possibility to build their own style, to be creative and innovative in order to create, in a way, their own “brand”.
An important point that is also key to capture the reader’s attention has to do precisely with the title chosen for the opinion column. The author must use a striking, original title that partially introduces the reader to the topic to be developed in the text. Some authors choose controversial and questionable titles to achieve this.
Audience or public
Since the opinion column can be located in different media, as well as the topics on which it can be developed are diverse, the target audience can be extremely broad. This is because it is not necessary for the audience to be a specialist in a given area, since the way in which the text is constructed, the reflection of the author’s knowledge, the topic chosen and the criticism in general, allow the reader to find his or her place in a relatively simple way.
Use of language
The language used by the author in his writing is of great importance, since, given the breadth of the target audience, he should seek an appropriate language that is clear and also allows the reader to understand it easily. Although we will see that a great variety of rhetorical and literary resources can be implemented, the way in which it is written, in spite of the complexity implied by some or others, must be precise and easily understood.
On the other hand, the author develops the text written in the first person with a much wider margin to express his ideas, even if they are in the same line or not as the medium in which it is published. It is often a text that is aesthetically differentiated by the appearance of the text used.
Structure of the opinion column
Let’s see what are the most important elements to consider when writing a text like this, as well as the aspects that should be developed and how to do it. This, taking into account that the outline may vary according to the needs of the media or format in which it will be disseminated.
Thesis or theme
In this first part, the author presents the topic on which he/she is going to develop his/her point of view. It is a space similar to an introduction in which the author provides a general contextualization of the topic or event, in order to arrive at a particular context in which he presents his ideas. Likewise, the most important ideas also appear in which the author’s idea is to be checked later, so that he can resort to them in its central part.
In the central axis the author begins with the development of the argumentation in which he starts to give free rein to the information he knows after the contextualization. In this part he elaborates an analysis in which he begins to incorporate the ideas in a subjective tone that allows evidencing his position in front of the fact. In this part, as we can see, it is a much freer construction in which the author defines his own structure to the extent that he exposes the ideas.
In the last part we find the conclusion of the text in which the author ends with a series of reflections or conclusions about the issue he has raised and that allow him, at the same time, to reaffirm each of the arguments he has raised during the development. In addition to this, this section makes clear the author’s point of view, as well as the reasons why he/she defends or refutes it.
Types of the opinion column
It is possible to identify some other forms in which it is possible to develop this type of text and which, in many cases, enter into dialogue with some other types of text. Let us see what other types of opinion columns we can find:
Opinion and literary column
This modality is mixed with aspects of literary text, despite belonging to a category of non-literary text, especially because it is a journalistic text. However, it is possible to identify this type of text because it has a practical objective and an aesthetic objective. In the text there is evidence of the subjectivity expressed by the author from a thought developed in a logical and organized way, so that the reader must interpret to understand the text, ideas or terms.
In this case, it is a type of text in which information about comments or opinions is exposed and that generates reasoning by the way in which the author approaches the content. In this way, in addition to the expression of his opinion, the information is also presented in a summarized way to make known the most relevant events or to divide the topic that is also of interest to the reader.
It is a type of text in which the author explains his arguments or ideas based on concepts and an aesthetic sense. It is one of the most complex texts, particularly for the reader, since a series of literary values and resources are introduced that increase the level of demand for the reader’s comprehension, as well as for the interpretation of the ideas explained by the author.
As its name indicates, it is a type of column in which the author, following the intention of showing his position in front of a fact, is also the axis of generating humor from a sense of entertainment and amusement for the public to which it is addressed. There are also diverse topics that can be addressed, although it is distinguished because it is marked by an ironic language in which the author can mock and criticize events of everyday life, or important personalities or figures that are popularly known.
This type of opinion column is precisely a commentary that is developed by the author in which he also shares information related to unknown details about the facts, events or the particular topic, so that he can build his own commentary with a communicative nuance in which he also makes his position evident. Additionally, it is a commentary that can also be ironic, humorous, critical or analytical if preferred.
The critical column, also known as review column, is distinguished because in it the author is in charge of exposing a series of topics that imply a mastery and knowledge of the author, given the need for argumentation and the search for conviction. It often includes specific topics of general interest from fields such as society, art, among others.
Column of personalities
It is a type of column in which the author exposes his point of view or opinion in relation to different figures or personalities of the social life that become a current topic at the moment in which it is developed due to some particularity that allows them to stand out. In this sense, the author may decide to generate his column in relation to personalities such as writers, politicians, artists, musicians, actors, among others, who are a focal point for the public.
Guidelines for writing an opinion column
After knowing the most important aspects of this type of journalistic texts, we move on to a fundamental point, which is the elaboration of a text like this one. For this purpose, we have gathered a series of elements that must be taken into account when writing an opinion column and that cannot be missing in the process, these are:
Selection of the topic
Preparing a text like this also implies thinking about the reader, the medium in which it will be disseminated and the interests and/or needs of the writer, therefore the selection of the topic is a fundamental step in the writing process. It is recommended to choose an interesting topic, which can capture the attention of a large number of readers. Experts consider that the best way to do this is to study cases or current topics with which readers may be familiar.
However, it is necessary to mention that the freedom to choose the topic is also one of the main characteristics of the opinion column, which is why, if the journalist prefers, he/she can choose to prepare a column with a novel topic that is capable of generating interest and curiosity.
Preparation of the information
Before starting the writing process, it is very important for the author to collect and prepare all the information on which the opinion column will be based. It is recommended the construction of a visual organizer that includes all the necessary information in each part of the writing where the author can be supported to follow the structure or approach he/she wants to use for the column.
It is important to ensure that each of the ideas or argumentative parts is in accordance with the information collected, while following a connection between the parts that facilitates the writing process and, at the same time, the reading process of the target audience.
Planning the writing
Although there is a general structure that the author can take to put his content, it is necessary that he chooses how he will use this framework or, in particular, how he will present his ideas. This is because the arguments are usually the starting point of the opinion column, so that little by little the author’s thesis or central idea will appear as each of the points are developed. The problem statement should not be forgotten.
Reinforcement of the argumentation
One of the keys of the opinion column is the argumentation through which, in addition, the reader is persuaded, that is why the exposition of ideas in the argumentative process must be based on solid aspects and evidences that strengthen each one of the expositions in such a way that each one of the arguments is reinforced. For this, it is necessary for the author to provide figures, data, evidence and all kinds of elements that allow him to confirm the analysis he makes throughout his text.
Familiarity with the reader
Another fundamental point of the opinion column is related to the familiar tone with the reader, so that the communication with him, or at least in the first part of the information, arrives in a better way. That is why it is recommended that the author handles in his writing an intimate and close tone with the readers that can generate empathy and thus, credibility of the information presented.
That is, write as if you were talking to an acquaintance or friend, which contributes to the explanation of the subject, the argumentation and the connection between the ideas of the fact and the evaluations of the writer.
Reaffirmation of the position
To finish writing the opinion column, it is recommended that the text closes by reaffirming the position that the author argued throughout the writing. That is to say, it should be written very well and make clear the position taken by the author on the topic developed, preferably in a few words. To achieve this, it is necessary to take a look at the content and connect the subsequent analysis in a way that fits the assessment. This allows the approach that has been established to develop in a natural way before the reader’s eyes, generating a connection with what has been said and, to this extent, the persuasion that this type of text seeks.
Revision of the opinion column
The revision of the text is a step that we cannot forget or omit, since it will allow us to identify spelling and writing mistakes, as well as possible errors in the cohesion and approach of the ideas, which could detract from the quality and veracity of our writing. That is why the revision must be done with an objective and deep look that facilitates the detection of any type of weakness in order to modify and correct it.
Thus, we will be able to detect from the simplest to the deepest aspect before submitting or publishing it. The correspondence of the arguments with the author’s analysis and position must be verified.
To learn more about other types of journalistic or non-literary texts, in our section you will find a lot of information available. In addition, you can learn much more about the literary world in our section dedicated to this artistic field.