An op-ed, abbreviated from opposite the editorial page[1] (though often mistaken for opinion-editorial), is a newspaper article that expresses the opinions of a named writer who is usually unaffiliated with the newspaper's editorial board. These are different from editorials, which are usually unsigned and written by editorial board members.

Although standard editorial pages have been printed by newspapers for many centuries, the direct ancestor to the modern op-ed page was created in 1921 by Herbert Bayard Swope of The New York Evening World. When he took over as editor in 1920, he realized that the page opposite the editorials was "a catchall for book reviews, society boilerplate, and obituaries".[2] He is quoted as writing:

"It occurred to me that nothing is more interesting than opinion when opinion is interesting, so I devised a method of cleaning off the page opposite the editorial, which became the most important in America … and thereon I decided to print opinions, ignoring facts."[3]

But Swope only included opinions by employees of his newspaper, and the first "modern" op-ed page—that is, one that called on contributors outside the newspaper—had to wait until its launch in 1970, under the direction of The New York Times editor John B. Oakes.[4]

Beginning in the 1930s, radio began to threaten print journalism, a process that was later accelerated by the rise of television. To combat this, major newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post began including more openly subjective and opinionated journalism, adding more columns and growing their op-ed pages.[5]

A concern about how to clearly disclose the ties in the op-eds arises because the readers of the media cannot be expected to know all about the possible connections between op-eds editors and interest groups funding some of them. In a letter to The New York Times, the lack of a clear declaration of conflict of interest in op-eds has been criticized by a group of US journalists campaigning for more 'op-ed transparency'.[6][7]


  1. ^ Op-ed. (2010). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved June 29, 2010, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/op-ed
  2. ^ Meyer, K. (1990). Pundits, poets, and wits. New York: Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Swope, H. B. as quoted in Meyer, K. (1990). Pundits, poets, and wits. New York: Oxford University Press, p. xxxvii.
  4. ^ Shafer, Jack. "The Op-Ed Page's Back Pages: A press scholar explains how the New York Times op-ed page got started." from http://www.slate.com/id/2268829/.
  5. ^ Marc, David (2010). "journalism". Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. http://gme.grolier.com/article?assetid=0155460-0. 
  6. ^ Greenslade, Roy (2011-10-11). "US journalists launch campaign for 'op-ed transparency'". http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/greenslade/2011/oct/11/us-press-publishing-new-york-times. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  7. ^ Silverman, Craig (2011-10-11). "Journos call for more transparency at NYT Op-Ed page: Toward a higher standard of disclosure". http://www.cjr.org/behind_the_news/journos_call_for_more_transpar.php?page=all. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 

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