The Opinion Piece: Finding Good Examples

Image by edlf2005 (CC BY 2.0)

Last week I reviewed the features of the opinion piece students are required to write on the OSSLT. One of the best ways to learn to write in a specific form is to read it. Fortunately, examples of the opinion piece abound, both in print and online.

Where to find examples
If you’re looking for examples in print newspapers or magazines, look for sections titled Commentary or Opinion. Some magazines feature a personal essay each month. A personal essay is an opinion piece that goes by a different name. A reviewis also a variation on the opinion piece. 
Online, your choices are nearly unlimited. Newspapers such as The National Post, The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star have extensive commentary and opinion sections that feature opinion pieces on many topics.
Many online magazines, including Macleans.ca and Wired.com, have an Opinion link on their main page.
However, far and away the best place to find opinions online is in blogs. The newspapers and magazines listed above also have blog sections featuring writers who blog about sports, entertainment, education, and many other topics. Many businesses and organizations also host blogs on their websites. Not all of the blog posts you’ll come across are opinion pieces – you’ll have to scan those you’re interested in to see if they express and support an opinion on a topic.
Some things to keep in mind
Paragraphs have changed. The opinion pieces you find may not follow the “rules” of structured writing that the OSSLT emphasizes and requires. As noted in a previous post, paragraphs are becoming shorter. You may also notice that some “paragraphs” are not strictly paragraphs at all.
The Internet is changing the way people write. Some paragraphs now consist of only one or two sentences that don’t follow the topic sentence—supporting detail—concluding sentence structure taught at school.
On the other hand, some blog posts appear as one large, single block of text that could reasonably be divided into two or three paragraphs.
Don’t let the structure distract you. Use what you know about the features of an opinion piece to decide if what you’re reading expresses an opinion on a topic and supports it with examples, reasons and proof.

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