This semester, power up your opinion page
One of the sessions we’ve just lined up for the National College Media Convention in Chicago is just too good to keep under wraps. So I asked the presenter, Judy Gibbs Robinson, to give us a peek at the idea so you can use it now, at the start of the semester.
Judy is the editorial adviser for The Oklahoma Daily and OUDaily.com. Her students have increased the impact of their opinion pages by focusing on a clear goal each semester. In spring 2012, they zeroed in on gender equality. The paper even devoted an entire front page to an editorial for gender-neutral housing.
Judy’s Chicago session will be called “Using Your Bully Pulpit: How a Clear Editorial Mission Can Boost the Power of your Opinion Page.” Here’s her (exclusive!) preview to help you get started immediately.
If you’ve ever had a day when you had no idea what your paper’s editorial should be about, here’s an idea that may work for you: Start each semester with an editorial mission statement.
An editorial mission statement could be as broad as “Our paper’s editorial page will advance the concerns of students on our campus regarding administrative, political and social issues.” In that case, the mission statement serves as a reminder that whatever view your editorial takes, it should be because you believe it to be in the best interests of students.
More recently, The Oklahoma Daily has worked with more focused editorial mission statements. One was to promote transparency and openness on campus and beyond. Another was to advocate for gender equality, especially regarding campus employment and housing issues.
A targeted editorial mission statement doesn’t lock your opinion page into singing the same song every day. You’ll still comment on news and social issues of all sorts as they arise. But at planned intervals, or whenever you have that slow day, you will know what to write about. And perhaps have it written already.
Mission statements are a great way to focus future actions on clear goals. And they work as well for college newspaper opinion desks as they do for Fortune 500 organizations.
–Judy Gibbs Robinson, editorial adviser, The Oklahoma Daily/OUDaily.com