Media Terms

December 10, 2009

This is a list of the four basic types of content that appear in a newspaper. The media serve to inform public opinion and generate legislative action in powerful ways. We are committed to being a resource for media professionals, providing them with up-to-date, accurate information about hunger and poverty and about the most current legislative actions on Capitol Hill that affect these issues. We train and encourage our volunteers to influence the media by generating these kinds of media items, which is why it is important to understand the differences between them.

Terms under other topics are defined in the glossary, or visit Background Information on the Legislative Process. Global Grassroots Manager Ken Patterson ([email protected]) can help you begin your efforts to influence the media toward addressing poverty issues.


An article appears in any type of publication such as a newspaper and always is nonfiction, expressing facts. Aside from the opinion pages and advertisements, a newspaper is comprised mainly of articles, often with the by-line of the journalist who wrote them.


An editorial expresses the opinion of the news organization itself, specifically of the publisher, editor, or editorial board. It therefore is generally never signed, and usually appears on a left-hand page, usually in the front section of the paper, or in a section devoted to opinion.

Letter to the Editor

Letters to the editor are featured on the editorial pages of most newspapers and many other types of media. They are usually responses to items that have already appeared in the publication. Letters to the editor are usually published with the writer’s name and town, and sometimes a credential. Some newspapers would include something like “the writer is a volunteer with RESULTS, a citizen’s grassroots lobby working to eradicate hunger and poverty” if you include it with your letter.


The term “op-ed” literally refers to the page opposite the editorial page, where many newspapers place opinion pieces other than editorials. We use “op-ed” for such pieces, whether they appear on the editorial page or its opposite. An op-ed expresses a personal viewpoint, generally taking the form of an essay or thesis, and it is always signed. Op-eds are usually longer than letters to the editor, and they often include a small blurb about the writer at the end of the article, for instance, explaining that the writer is a public official or a leading member of a organization.

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