That’s just, like, your opinion, man

John Goodman and Jeff Bridges in the Coen Brothers classic “The Big Lebowski”. Photo: AllMoviePhoto.com

TOPIC: Opinion writing and blogging

TASK: Write 500 words about a subject upon which you can form an opinion. It can be anything at all, from fashion to politics. You must stay within the word limit (10 per cent either way is allowable). You get extra marks if you make this reader laugh!

READ: How to write opinion articles (UNUSA)

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I should include a disclaimer with this topic: I’m not generally a fan of emerging journalists learning to write opinion too early, mainly because I’d prefer that you learn to tell the stories of other people’s lives first. In my (not so humble) opinion, someone who writes opinion should have a specific area of expertise upon which to base that opinion. So of course you’re all pretty qualified to discussย the travails of tertiary study, the complete dearth of great live music venues in Sydney, or trying to afford rent and a car on an Austudy allowance. But it gets trickier when you really hanker to let the world know what you think about climate change, for example.

We’re going to write opinion pieces because they are a natural part of blogging. There are some great opinion writers out there – check out the political blogger Greg Jericho (aka Grog’s Gamut). His work is mostly opinion supported by fact. Importantly, he’s not a ranter. He expresses his side of an argument with conviction, but allows for other views too. You can find more opinion writing at The Drum, The Punch, and on most of the major news sites. Plenty of opinion writing is fun – Google Marieke Hardy, grand-daughter of well-known Australian writer Frank. Marieke’s writing is irreverent and often just plain naughty.

To learn how to write good opinion, try looking for opinion pieces written about subjects which interest you: fashion, music, football, politics, art, theatre. Take note of how much research goes into the writing; effective opinion writingย is not simply effusive venting from the inside of the writer’s head or heart. It’s always, always, alwaysย based on factual information.

Most reviews (of films or music) are really opinion. Have a look for some reviews in Rolling Stone (which also, by the way, features some absolutely amazing feature writing). Anyone interested in writing reviews (especially music reviews and music writing in general) should hunt down anything by Lester Bangs. Here’s a sample. When you can write like that, I’m happy for you to write all the opinion you want! Finally, if during your research and reading you find anything good, post the links below so the rest of us can have a look, or tweet them using the hashtag #justmyopinion.