OpEd Assignment Instructions

Due in tutorial week of Sept. 23, 2019

15% of total grade

*You must bring a hard copy to tutorial. OpEds will be collected at the beginning of tutorial.


Choose one of the following topics to design your OpEdaround:

1. Reality TV does/does not promote dangerous stereotypes.

Tip: Choose 1 or 2 shows to give detailed examples about.

2. Video games should/should not be considered a sport.

Tip: Explain why it matters if video games are considered a sport or not.

3. Corporate taxes should/should not be raised.

Tip: Explain what the taxes would be used for OR why no new taxes are needed.

4. Canada does/does not have a responsibility to support Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.

Tip: Make sure you define all the positions. Who are the ‘Canadians’? Who are the protesters? What are the various sides of the issue?

5. Canada should/should not accept more immigrants this year.

Tip: Explain why ‘this year’ is (or is not) significant.

6. Offensive words should/should not be banned from radio, newspapers, and television.

Tip: You may want to focus on specific words. Be mindful of how to assert a strong position on the topic without being unintentionally hurtful.


Your OpEd must include all of the following:

A clearly stated position on one of the above prompts.

Details about the specifics of the prompt. Define the terms you are using. Narrow the larger prompt to a specific example.

Evidence (facts, policy reports, specific examples) to support your position.

A call to action on the topic.

Citations that identify any sources you have used. (Footnotes are acceptable).

Catchy, engaging, or provocative title (must be relevant).

NOTE: An OpEd is an opportunity to make an impassioned argument about a current hot topic. All arguments must be supported by evidence. Pure opinion-based rants will not be accepted.

Steps to take BEFORE you write:

(These tips are adapted from journalist and writer Joanne Omang, published in 2008)

1. Try to reduce your point to a single sentence. For example: The United Nations needs more funding. Women’s rights are being abused. Earth’s future is at stake this week in Congress.

2. See if your point-sentence passes the “wow” test or the “hmm” test. If not, the point needs sharpening.

3. Imagine your target reader: she’s someone whose attention you’ve been courting. She’s flipping through the paper on a workday morning, scanning for something interesting, gulping coffee, checking the time. What first line, related however distantly to your subject, might catch her eye? If you can intrigue, surprise, alarm or baffle your imaginary reader past the first paragraph, you stand a chance that the editor will let you put the whole thing in the paper.

4. Any point worth making will have to be defended. Muster your best four supporting arguments or data bits and write a sentence on each one. Be as specific as possible. Never start a sentence with “there is/are” and avoid the passive voice.

5. Raise the opposition’s best arguments and demolish them.

6. Let yourself become emotional. Get carried away with the drama, significance, injustice, triumph, outrage, need of your point, and wax lyrical—for one paragraph. Write five such paragraphs and choose the best one.

7. What is the minimum background a reader absolutely must have in order to grasp your point? Write two paragraphs that summarize this background.

8. Now, put these elements together and write the piece. Write 1,000 words (four double-spaced pages) maximum. Single-space between sentences. Then cut down to word limit to sharpen your point.

9. Edit your prose. Be ruthless with yourself. Rewrite “Thereis/are” sentences. Look at every word ending in –ly and eliminate most if not all of the adverbs. Convert passive-voice sentences to active ones. Look critically at all your metaphors, similes and pet phrases to makes sure they are not clichés. Translate all jargon into English.

Grading Rubric

TAs will mark your OpEd based on the following criteria:

Evidence that you have researched the topic. Your op-edshould demonstrate your knowledge of the topic.

Argument is identifiable, clearly stated, relevant to assigned topic, and sharp.

Authoritative tone, backed by relevant specific examples, details, and evidence to support your claims.

At minimum, one argument from the “other side” is raised and rebutted as evidence for your point.

All terms are defined. (For example, who are the pro-democracy protesters and what are their demands?)

Evidence that you have followed the steps laid out in “before you write.” (Note: it is very obvious when students do or don’t follow the steps).

OpEd is clearly, succinctly, and persuasively written.

There are no spelling or grammatical errors.

The word count is within the 800-900 word range.

Other Resources:

McMaster OpEd Article Tips: https://www.mcmaster.ca/opr/media_relations/ToolKi…

6 Tips for Writing and Placing OpEds:


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