How Not to Be Taken Seriously When You Write an Op-Ed
Combest today has a link to a truly bad op-ed on health care in the Springfield News-Leader. (This is not a knock on the News-Leader, because the piece appears to have been submitted by someone outside the paper.)
The only thing good about this op-ed is that it can serve as an excellent lesson in how not to do something. I don’t call it “bad” because I disagree with the author, although I do disagree vehemently with him. It is poorly written because, for whatever reason, it contains all the easy, worthless catch-phrases that instantly identify the author as being biased and operating from a pool of partisan emotions rather than reasoned thinking.
Take a very quick skim of the piece. The heavy use of loaded words and phrases like “cronies,” “greedy profiteers,” “huge stock options,” and “skimming the system” instantly let me know that I have no need to take the writer seriously. He clearly hasn’t put the time into writing the piece that might make it worth my time to read it carefully. (I did read it carefully anyway, but only for the purpose of this blog post.) I think the author uses the term “profiteers” three times in the op-ed to describe executives at insurance companies, as though he has the ability to judge the amount of profit that is proper.
If you want to convince people who are not already inclined to agree with you about something, try more of this:
For-profit insurance companies milk 30 percent off the top for “administrative” costs vs. just 4 percent for Medicare.
And far less of this:
We need both these options in the final bill to reign in greedy profiteers.
The first is an argument. The second is a screed. This op-ed has too much of the latter and too little of the former.