An op-ed piece is a short newspaper column that represents the strong, informed, and focused opinion of a writer on an issue of relevance to a targeted audience. It is a written prose piece which expresses the opinion of an author or entity with no affiliation with the publication's editorial board.[1] The term is short for "opposite the editorial page",[2] referring to the practice of newspapers placing op-eds on the opposite side of their editorial page. The New York Times is often credited with developing and naming the modern op-ed page.[3]


The "Page Op.", created in 1921 by Herbert Bayard Swope of The New York Evening World, is a possible precursor to the modern op-ed.[citation needed] When Swope took over as main editor in 1920, he opted to designate a page from editorial staff as "a catchall for book reviews, society boilerplate, and obituaries".[4] Swope explained:

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.[5]

With the development and availability of radio and television broadcasting as major information outlets, stakeholders and print journalism workers sought to increase or maintain their audience and relevance. According to the Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, major newspapers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post began including more opinionated journalism, adding more columns and increasing the extent of their opinion pages to drive public participation and readership.[6]

The modern op-ed page was developed in 1970 under the direction of The New York Times editor John B. Oakes.[7] Media scholar Michael J. Socolow writes of Oakes' innovation:

The Times' effort synthesized various antecedents and editorial visions. Journalistic innovation is usually complex, and typically involves multiple external factors. The Times' op-ed page appeared in an era of democratizing cultural and political discourse and of economic distress for the company itself. The newspaper's executives developed a place for outside contributors with space reserved for sale at a premium rate for additional commentaries and other purposes.[3]

The New York Times' first op-ed page appeared on 21 September 1970.[8]

Possible conflicts of interest

The relationship between op-eds, editors, and funding from interest groups has been a source of concern. In 2011, in an open letter to The New York Times, a group of U.S. journalists and academics called for conflict of interest transparency in op-eds.[9][10]

See also


  1. ^ "Definition of op-ed". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
  2. ^ Smith, Brian. "Op-Ed? Editorial? What do all these terms really mean?". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved April 7, 2023.
  3. ^ a b Socolow, Michael J. (2010). "A Profitable Public Sphere: The Creation of the New York Times Op-Ed Page". Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly. University of Maine.
  4. ^ Meyer, K. (1990). Pundits, poets, and wits. New York: Oxford University Press.
  5. ^ Swope, H. B. as quoted in Meyer, K. (1990). Pundits, poets, and wits. New York: Oxford University Press, p. xxxvii.
  6. ^ "'Journalism'". Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia. 2010.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "A press scholar explains how the New York Times op-ed page began". Slate. September 27, 2010. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  8. ^ Shipley, David (February 1, 2004). "And Now a Word From Op-Ed". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "US journalists launch campaign for 'op-ed transparency'". The Guardian. October 11, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2012.
  10. ^ "Journos call for more transparency at New York Times op-ed page". Columbia Journalism Review. October 6, 2011. Retrieved August 9, 2012.