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April 26, 2021, 2:24 p.m.
LINK: www.nytimes.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Sarah Scire   |   April 26, 2021

The New York Times announced its opinion section will no longer use the term “op-ed.” Outside opinion contributions will be labeled as “guest essays,” instead.

In a post announcing the change, opinion editor Katie Kingsbury described the label — a holdover from print newspaper design referring to opinions published on the opposite (“op”) page as editorials (“ed”) — as “clubby newspaper jargon.”

The term is outdated and, worse, can confuse and alienate readers:

In the digital world, in which millions of Times subscribers 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.

So now, at age 50, the designation will be retired. Editorials will still be called editorials, but the articles written by outside writers will be known going forward as “Guest Essays,’’ a title that will appear prominently above the headline …

In an era of distrust in the media and confusion over what journalism is, I believe institutions — even ones with a lot of esteemed traditions — better serve their audiences with direct, clear language. We don’t like jargon in our articles; we don’t want it above them, either.

The Times tested labeling outside opinion contributions as “guest essays” with readers — and were happy with the results. (You can see the label in action here or here.)

“Readers immediately grasped this term during research sessions and intuitively understood what it said about the relationship between the writer and The Times,” Kingsbury wrote. “It reflects our mission to invite and convene a wide range of voices and views.”

The Times is one of many news organizations making changes aimed at helping readers discern the difference between their opinion and news content. As Kingsbury told us in February, the Times will redesign the print and digital sections of Opinion “to further differentiate and contextualize Opinion journalism” from the reporting produced by its newsroom.

The Times also named 16 contributing opinion writers on Monday, noting that “a smaller roster of regular contributors will allow space for even more outside views.”

You can read the full announcement here.

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