Writing Opinions Articles

Editorials and Letters to the Editor fill the second and third pages of the Messenger. Each week Larissa and Megan, our opinions editors, will pitch a few story ideas that they believe St. Olaf will have an opinion about, but we’re always looking for student submissions as well. If you’re interested in submitting an op-ed, please see our submission guidelines.

If you’re looking to write an op-ed, here’s some good information to keep in mind:

Editorials and opinions articles are subject to the same level of editorial scrutiny as a standard news story. Just because a story is based in opinion doesn’t mean it can be inaccurate. Editorials are edited for AP Style and Manitou Messenger-specific style guidelines.


While you’re writing…

Avoid hyperbole: You can make strong, opinionated arguments without resorting to unnecessary exaggerations. The facts should speak for themselves. Watch your use of superlatives (e.g. the worst, biggest, shortest, etc.), unless you can prove that you’re certain. Also, be sure to acknowledge (but don’t dwell on) the complexity of your topic, very few issues are black and white.

Find, use, and cite data and supporting arguments: Chances are you aren’t the first one to make your point, so quote and cite reliable others. Like a news story, editorials require background research, and it should be clear to the reader that you’ve fully informed yourself about what you’re writing about before you take a stance. Don’t be afraid to use data and statistics as long as they’re valid. An opinions article is a little bit like a short essay: it needs a coherent, strong thesis, clear organization and supporting evidence.

Have an opinion: You’d be surprised by how many opinion articles lack a clear opinion. Don’t summarize others’ thoughts, be sure to present your own take. Include information that helps the reader understand your stance, not the entire topic. Remember, your job isn’t to inform the reader, but to convince them of something.

For further guidance, check out these opinions pieces published in previous issues of the Mess:

Participation points detract from constructive discourse

By Abi Tupa ’16

Honeybee campaign fails


By Chaz Mayo ’18

We are all complicit: silence condones injustice

By Andrew Hoffman ’16


Questions? Email our opinions editors at mess-opinion@stolaf.edu or stop by the Mess office.