Opinion column

IB English A: Language & Literature: Opinion column

Newspapers and magazines often have columnists who write for them. Generally speaking newspapers or magazines want there to be a cult of personality surrounding these columnists to generate good sales and brand loyalty. Such is the case with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times (picture). Columnists may be very outspoken in their opinions. Nevertheless, their opinions are in tune with the readership of a particular...

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Comments 8

Nusrien Khan 4 January 2018 - 12:26

Hi David/Tim,

Hope you had a great winter break.
Just a few quick questions please:
Can students include images in their opinion column (as in a blog)?
If the OC is of a serious nature and they can't include 'humour' will they lose marks?
Can students include subheadings?

Thank you very much,

David McIntyre 4 January 2018 - 13:17

Hi Nusrien,

Whilst I don't know, I would suspect that 'opinion columns' express perspective and attitude through a somewhat limited repertoire of linguistic structures. In other words, there is functional similarity. Whilst that is probably true, opinion columns will differ stylistically according to such things as publication, topic, intended reader etc. So, in this way, the answer to your question is 'it depends'. It is best, in my view, for students to write for an actually existing publication with a 'house style'. If the publication doesn't typically intend humour, then there is no humour to replicate. If it is typical, then the inclusion of humour make more sense. If there are subheadings, use subheadings; if there aren't, don't.

The same goes for images too, but these are not really assessed, or are at any rate very difficult to assess, even if (in the unlikely circumstance) the student includes her own images.

I hope this helps,


Nusrien Khan 6 January 2018 - 08:36

Hi David,

Thanks for your response. So just to clarify, the student should be writing for an actual existing publication and copy their style. Is this a requirement? The reason i ask is that the actual publication is just plain text without images and laid out in paragraphs - quite plain and uninteresting. Will this work?


David McIntyre 7 January 2018 - 14:50

Hi Nusrien,

This is not a requirement. It is my recommendation. Writing an op ed for the Sydney Morning Herald is better than writing an op ed for 'a newspaper'. Plain layout doesn't matter. The quality of writing, ideas, and structure do matter.

Best regards,


Nusrien Khan 8 January 2018 - 11:24

Thank you David.

Warm regards,

María Lourdes Padilla Othick 26 March 2018 - 12:56

From the student's perspective, what would be the difference in terms of content and structure between writing an opinion column and and op-ed piece?
Thank you.

David McIntyre 26 March 2018 - 19:42

Hi Maria,

I cannot think that there is a difference per se. It is a type of text that is argumentative and persuasive. It may be the case that one has a named writer, and the other is written from an apparently institutional perspective. What does, of course, make a difference is the actual publication and historical period in which these texts are written; this will influence things like content, style, register etc.

Kind regards,


María Lourdes Padilla Othick 26 March 2018 - 23:36

Thank you for your prompt reply! Very helpful!
Warm regards,
María Lourdes

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