MSM Mar-Dec 2006 Editorial : What Is A Good Editorial?

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 What is a Good Editorial?

What are the qualities that distinguish a good editorial? Are there certain essential attributes? What should a good editorial do to a reader, and what not?

These are some crucial questions that every editor, editorial board member, journal and its policy makers should decide for themselves and their respective publication. To that extent it is individual, and some may consider it the internal matter of the publication. However, a broad consensus on certain essential parameters maybe desirable, even essential, if the individual has also to be a significant part of the wider knowledge corpus which all editorials pooled together represent.

We wonder if ever an exercise to publish all editorials of a certain publication has been undertaken, say over a five or ten year period.  Or for that matter, say hundred editorials from hundred different editors. It may make for fascinating reading. We hope some smart publisher is reading this. It is possible editorials of one editor may have been compiled and published in book form. That itself is not uninteresting. But the flavour of different edits by different authors is, well, in a class by itself. Wonder if it has been attempted ever?

Of course we know why it may not have been done. Editors, by and large, are reticent people, with a magnified sense of their own importance. Well, this may hurt some editors, but before they jump at our throats, let us clarify that we belong there as well (The group of editors, reticent, and pompous.). Hence, they may be willing to publish a book of their own edits, but maybe averse to a book with multiple editors as co-authors. Maybe some smart publisher should manage it.  He will make his bucks, for sure. And the readers, including fellow editors, will hugely enjoy the fare offered, as they savour the stuff that goes into edit writing. And a second important service will be to help deflate some editorial egos, much in need of puncturing, as so many readers would vouch for.

Enough of that for the present, for we must concentrate on the questions raised at the beginning of this essay. And we hope fellow editors can take some ego puncturing sportingly. Are they not doing it to their writers all the time? It helps to get to the other side of the fence on occasions. Never mind, for those who feel sour faced, there is solace. Their position in the periodical will ensure it builds up with some speed once again.

 Opinion Maker, Reconciliatory, Balanced and Crusading

The very first criterion is that a good editorial is an opinion maker. If it is based on evidence, so much the better. But it analyses evidence rather than produces it. Of course what it analyses can be the basis of the production of new evidence.  But it is more like the ‘Results and Discussion’ that follow ‘Materials and Method’ in a research paper in so far as it is an objective analysis. However, it goes beyond an analysis. It must necessarily also express an opinion. It must attempt to critically analyse and sift from the various opinions, analyses and evidences floating around. It must present a refreshing perspective to an issue that retains balance when writings get opinionated, and/or stirs up the crotchety and crusty when scientific/creative stupor sets in. Moreover, a good editorial is contemporary without being populist. It tackles recent events and issues, and attempts to formulate viewpoints based on an objective analysis of happenings and conflicting/contrary opinions.

[Read further at:;year=2006;volume=4;issue=1;spage=14;epage=17;aulast=Singh ]




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