Are Op-eds the antecedents of blogs?

17Mar09

“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.”

– Herbert Bayer, Editor of the New York Evening World and inventor of the Op-ed

Op-ed (Opposite the editorial) sections have appeared in newspapers since Herbert Bayer invented them in 1921.

His insight was that interesting people write well about the things they are interested in. But they tend to write with less regard for facts than a journalist, or editorial team, would professionally be compelled to verify or report truthfully.

Unlike the Editors page, that contained content from the editorial team often without naming a specific writer. Bayer used the page opposite the Editors page in the New York Evening World to feature articles from named (and usually famous) individuals. This created the first Op-ed in 1921, just a year after he took over as editor of the paper.

The content varied greatly, but would usually feature subjects very popular with the readership; such as society gossip, reviews, or obituaries.

The op-ed became a staple in newspaper and magazine publishing, providing an entertaining or personal-view of a subject close to the heart of the writer. It has often been presented as containing unqualified opinion, or the view of an amateur enthusiast (punditry); allowing Op-eds to be less constrained and unbiased in presenting a view on a subject.

Perhaps Op-eds are the antecedents of blogs?

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