The Snoop: Types of Newspaper Articles

“Your opinion piece was biased.”

“You should print only fact-based news, not opinion.”

It used to be that newspapers were the only way people consumed news, so people were familiar with the different types of articles found in a newspaper.

When I read comments like the above, I wonder people if in this day and age of Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp, all “news” articles kind of look the same.

To that end, I wanted to write a quick primer on the different types of content you’ll find each week in the Herald:

Straight News

Sometimes called “hard news”, “news reports”, or just “news”. Most of our content each week falls into this category. Some news comes from other sources. Some news we create in-house. No matter the source, we strive to keep news stories formal, neutral, and objective.

Feature Articles

Articles about a new restaurant opening, an aspect of Ava’s history, a profile of a local artisan are all features. They tend to be less formal than a news story, but still presented in an objective way. 

We write most of the features that appear in the Herald, but once in a while will re-run a relevant piece we find elsewhere.

Columns

A Small Medium at Large, What About This? and my own Greetings From are examples of Herald columns. 

Columns have their own style. Columns may instruct or entertain. They are often written in a less formal style than a news story.

Correspondents

Mt. Tabor, Gentryville, The Champion News, and Red Bank are examples of community correspondents for the Herald. Authored by volunteers, these updates report church, social and news tidbits from all over Douglas County. 

Op-Ed

Short for “Opposite the Editorial page”, op-ed articles are usually by a subject matter expert not affiliated with the newspaper.  Op-ed pieces often try to raise awareness of or change public opinion about an issue.

Letters to the Editor

Written by a reader or subscriber, a letter to the editor can comment, complement, complain, or correct. 

The Herald prints letters sent to the editors for free, but they are subject to our review and approval. 

Editorials

Dictionary.com defines an editorial as “an article in a newspaper or other periodical or on a website presenting the opinion of the publisher, writer, or editor.” 

Editorial opinion pieces have a long history in American Journalism. Virginia found out there was still a Santa Claus in an editorial. “Manifest destiny” was first used as a phrase in an editorial.  The editorials of William Allen White of the Emporia (Kanas) Gazette helped William McKinley get elected as President.

Editorials are still important today.

The Editors at USAToday recently described the value of editorials this way: 

“The news department has an important task, which is to write a first draft of history as it happens; the opinion pages shape how we look at our history. In a 24/7 news environment, many readers already know what happened; opinion pieces help them decide how to think about it.”

Here in Ava, it’s not uncommon for us and a KKOZ representative to be the only non-participating attendees at a school board or city council meeting.

As such, we have a community responsibility to analyze what happened and periodically comment on what we can infer from it. For us, that comment takes the form of an editorial opinion. 

We’ll strive to use care, reason, sound judgment, and fact in those pieces. 

But ultimately? 

They are opinions.

And you are free to disagree with them.

But tell us to stop printing them, and we’ll kindly refer you to the First Amendment.