Opt-Out of Op-Ed

The New York Times will no longer be using the term Op-Ed the Opinion articles it publishes. The term, introduced 50 years ago, basically described the location of such articles. They were literally published opposite the editorial. But when most readers have moved online, the term has simply lost its meaning:

In the digital world, in which millions of Times readers absorb the paper’s journalism online, there is no geographical “Op-Ed,” just as there is no geographical “Ed” for Op-Ed to be opposite to. It is a relic of an older age and an older print newspaper design.

Kathleen Kingsbury

The articles written by NY Times staff will be called Editorials while articles written by outside writers will be called Guest Essays.

I like this change for two reasons: it uses consistent labels to describe these articles, focusing on the identity of the author, and it reflect the new ways in which people read today.

Brevity ≠ clarity

“The first rule of good communication is understanding that brevity, while useful, is not the same as clarity,” writes Harriet Minter in her new book WFH (Working from Home) which I’ve enjoyed reading. 

She goes on to add a definition of clarity in communication: “Clear communication is the right information given at the right time, in the right way.”

This is a useful definition. Whether the first rule of good communication is about clarity is is something we will leave for another post.