Practice Analyzing and Interpreting an Editorial

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Practice Analyzing and Interpreting an Article

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Elements of an Editorial
  • 1:08 Background for Boone's…
  • 2:44 Analyzing Boone's Editorial
  • 7:03 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kara Wilson

Kara Wilson is a 6th-12th grade English and Drama teacher. She has a B.A. in Literature and an M.Ed, both of which she earned from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Expressing your opinions on paper can lead to powerful changes. Editorials have often helped promote social and political changes throughout history. In this lesson, we'll discuss how to analyze an exemplar editorial.

Elements of an Editorial

An editorial is a newspaper article written by or on behalf of an editor, and it expresses an opinion about a specific issue. Editorials are often written about current issues that affect a particular group of people, either strongly supporting or rejecting it. So, someone writing an editorial must be persuasive since editorials are meant to influence the opinions of readers. While news articles are supposed to be unbiased and balanced, editorials are meant to be biased, building on an argument.

Good editorials have:

  • An introduction that has an intriguing hook to grab the reader's attention, a body, and a conclusion
  • The opinions of the writer expressed in a professional way, avoiding name-calling and focusing on the issue without attacking individuals
  • The opposition's beliefs, which are refuted with strong facts, examples, or quotations to support the writer's position
  • A pro-active approach to making the situation better rather than simply complaining about it
  • A concise conclusion that powerfully sums up the writer's position

Background for Boone's Editorial

In 1956, racial segregation was a hot topic. Buford Boone, the publisher of The Tuscaloosa News in Alabama, wrote a powerful editorial in favor of ending racial segregation in schools. The editorial was titled 'What a Price for Peace,' and it contributed to him winning the Pulitzer Prize for his 'fearless and reasoned editorials in a community inflamed by a segregation issue'.

'What a Price for Peace' was first published on February 7, 1956, the day after an angry mob assembled on the University of Alabama's campus. The mob threatened to kill a student named Autherine Lucy, a young African-American woman who had been accepted to the University of Alabama before they realized she wasn't white. She then worked with lawyers to sue the university and in 1955, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Lucy could attend. So when Lucy set foot on campus on February 6, 1956, a mob of people came to protest. They shouted racist chants, insulted Lucy, threw eggs at her, and threatened to kill her. Lucy had to be escorted off campus by the police and university officials voted to suspend Lucy, saying the campus was unsafe for her, and gave in to the angry, racist protesters.

The very next day, Buford Boone published what would become his award-winning editorial. Though it led to his recognition, it was a very controversial piece to publish at that time. Let's look at a couple of excerpts from it.

Analyzing Boone's Editorial

Boone's editorial begins by saying:

When mobs start imposing their frenzied will on universities, we have a bad situation. Our government's authority springs from the will of the people. But their wishes, if we are to be guided by democratic processes, must be expressed by ballot at the polls, by action in the legislative halls, and finally, by interpretation from the bench. No intelligent expression ever has come from a crazed mob, and it never will. And make no mistake. There was a mob, in the worst sense, at the University of Alabama yesterday. Every person who witnessed the events there with comparative detachment speaks of the tragic nearness with which our great University came to being associated with a murder -- yes, we said murder.

In his first sentence, Boone grabs the reader's attention with a strong hook using powerful words like 'mob' and 'frenzied'. Boone immediately addresses and refutes the opposition who support the protesting mob by saying that the government's authority springs from the will of the people. Therefore, he argues that people may not like desegregation, but they voted for those in power and the Supreme Court ruled in Autherine Lucy's favor and in favor of desegregating the University of Alabama, so everyone must respect that decision.

He then goes on to discuss the democratic process, reminding readers that this is a healthy form of expression and is how changes are made. He then makes a powerful statement against the protesters by saying no intelligent expression can ever come from a mob. Though he is clearly against what those protesters did, he maintains a professional stance without name-calling or pointing fingers at any specific people within that angry group. He then supports his position by stating that every witness detached from the event talks about how close that moment came to becoming a murder. He then emphasizes his point by saying, 'yes, we said murder', repeating the word 'murder' and speaking for The Tuscaloosa News as a whole.

Boone's editorial goes on to say:

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account