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Reading Editorials and other Persuasive Writings

Assignment #1

There are three different types of editorials:

1. Articles written by a newspaper's editorial board members expressing the paper's position on s local, national, or international issue currently in the news. Since these pieces are written by a group, a by-line indicating the author is not included.

2. Syndicated or locally written columns written by individuals, again expressing a position on a local, national, or international issue in the news. The author's name, and in some cases, a picture, are included in the column. In the case of The Courier-Journal another example is the local issue-oriented "Your View" column, which appears in Wednesday's "Neighborhoods" section. The articles are written by readers and are typically of an editorial nature.

3. Letters written by readers of the newspaper. In the case Louisville's The Courier-Journal, this section is titles "Reader's Forum." The newspaper is providing a forum through which readers may comment on an issue or the way the paper has covered an issue.

**Your assignment is to find an example for each of the three types of editorials and fill out the organizer. When you have finished, turn in a copy of each of the three editorials and your completed organizer to your teacher.

Assignment #2

The main difference between an editorial and a feature article is in the purpose of the article. The purpose of a feature article is simply to inform the audience, while the purpose of an editorial is to persuade the audience.


Persuasive: Students should be allowed to wear shorts as part of their uniform.

Informative: School uniform requirements in Colonial America.

Persuasive: Pet owners should be required to spay or neuter their pets.

Informative: Problems caused by pet overpopulation. (While information presented in this article may persuade you to have your pet spayd or neutered, that is not the main purpose of the article.)

Persuasive: Parents should be held accountable for truant children.

Informative: Truancy rates have risen this year.

** Your assignment is to find one editorial and one feature article dealing with similar topics (as presented in the examples above). Create a venn diagram comparing the informative text (feature article) with the persuasive text (editorial). Turn in your venn diagram to your teacher when you finish.

Assignment #3

Persuasive reading materials are created with the intent of promoting a certain perspective and convincing readers to embrace that view. Readers need to carefully weigh the evidence to make an informed decision about their own opinion on the matter.

Your assignment is to read the editorial "Guns in the Hands of the Blind is a Shot in the Dark," and complete the organizer. Write a brief essay detailing your opinion on the subject as well as how persuasuve you found the article. When you finish, see your teacher for further instructions.

Assignment #4

There are many different types of persuasive techniques that authors use to get their readers to embrace the view that the author desires. They include the following:


This uses the argument that because everybody is doing it you should too. Every kid loves pizza, so the cafeteria should serve it everyday.


Uses the testimony or statement of someone to persuade you to think or act as he or she does. Bob has been in three different middle schools, and he claims our cafeteria has the best pizza.

Expert Opinion

Using quotes and statements from a person considered to be an expert on the topic. Sally Jones, the Health Inspector, said after her visit to our cafeteria, "You have wonderfully clean facilities."


Using research to support the writer's view. According to a Middle School Health survey, only 85% of adolescents consume lunch.

Call to Action

Encouraging the reader to do something about the issue being addressed. All of us need to eat lunch in our cafeteria everyday.

Emotional Appeal

Using details to create an emotional response from the reader (pity, disgust, fear, anger, etc.). When you skip a meal, your body begins converting energy to fat in an effort to keep you from starving.

Rhetorical Question

Using a question to get the reader's attention and focus the purpose. Do you enjoy the sound of your stomach growling?


Repeating a word or phrase throughout the writing. Hunger. It affects all of us at some point in the day. Hunger. Our growing bodies need fuel to help us function. Hunger. It is keeping many of us from achieving our best in school.


Predicting the outcome of a situation. If we do not take our eating habits seriously, our grades will drop and our future will be doomed.

Cause and Effect

Stating the effect that something may have. Because not enough students are eating in the cafeteria, our choices of food items have been limited.

* There is a Word version of these techniques that you may want to print out and keep for future reference.

** Your assignment is to find an advertisement or editoral using each of the persuasive techniques. Attach to each ad or editorial a brief description of the technique you think is being used and an explanation of why you think it is that particular technique. Use information from the ad or editorial in your explanation.