'Op-Ed' Loses Its Place at Times

Editor says the idea is to drop newspaper jargon, but there's another view
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 26, 2021 7:40 PM CDT
Updated Apr 27, 2021 12:11 AM CDT
'Guest Essay' Replaces 'Op-Ed' at Times
An editorial about gun laws appeared on the front page of the New York Times in 2015.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The "Op-Ed" label still makes geographic sense in the print edition of a newspaper, but it's lost in digital space. So after a half-century of defining the page of opinion pieces written by people who don't work for the New York Times by its proximity to the editorial page next-door, the term will be retired at the paper. Pieces by outside contributors will now be "guest essays," the New York Post reports, and they'll be labeled that way. "Terms like Op-Ed are, by their nature, clubby newspaper jargon; we are striving to be far more inclusive in explaining how and why we do our work," Opinion editor Kathleen Kingsbury wrote Monday in the Times. She noted that the "Ed" page doesn't have a geographical meaning online, either.

"Op-Ed" never was intended to refer to views opposite of those expressed in the paper's editorials, Kingsbury said, though people thought that. But the idea of colliding opinions was part of the appeal. The paper's preference for direct wording is part of the reason for the change, she said, adding that research showed readers understand what "guest essay" says about the relationship between the Times and the author. The goal of the space remains the same, Kingsbury said: to stimulate thought and discussion of public problems by providing a place for viewpoints from outside the paper. In Politico, Jack Shafer expresses skepticism about the stated reasons for the change. He says readers are clear by now that the pieces aren't written by Times staff members and suggests newsletter revenue might be among the more relevant drivers. (The Times reversed itself about the page's standards last year, after a staff uprising.)

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