February 21, 2024
column writing for press conferences
Here's a quick guide on column writing for press conferences. Are you ready? Do you want to learn? Then this one's for you!

Here’s a guide on column writing for press conferences:

A column is an opinion article. Unlike the editorial, it is personal; as a matter of fact, you should include your personal experiences and knowledge about the issue at hand. In addition, you should be able to provide context, localization, and solutions (where applicable). Finally, a column should show your stand; you can go hard or be subtle about it, you can put it at the start, end, or the middle, but make sure that at the end of the day, the reader gets to know what you think and understands the reasoning behind it. By the way, write a provocative title that will make your reader read the column.

Depending on the approach (and the taste of the judge; after all, this is a press conference), there are quite a few ways to write a column. You can tell it through quotes and references to places, famous people, food, etc.; you can tell it through data via the use of relevant statistics, you can tell it through your own observations, your own eyes, your own interviews and field research, the eyes of other people, etc.

And by the way, make sure your facts are right, accurate, and updated. Hahahaha!

On the level of the writing itself, the column should more or less follow this format:

  • Introduction
  • Part A
  • Part B
  • Part C
  • Conclusion

This is a simple example, of course: You can build it up with sub-parts (say, two each), then there might be a context paragraph after the introduction and one before the conclusion, so you would be writing around 11 paragraphs if you did the necessary research and reading before the press conference.

As for length, the actual column itself is 500 words at the bare minimum, especially for Facebook-native publications. 750-850 words is the normal one for newspapers, while some columns can go up to 1,200 words. Anything beyond that – you will go into long form feature territory!

What does this mean? You have to read a lot: You cannot have an opinion and a unique voice if you do not know the literature. Alternatively, learn to watch the news…and read (and/or watch) geopolitical analysis as well. It would also be a good idea to learn about the inner workings of an issue by browsing through policy papers, notes, and briefings: You would be surprised at their abundance on the internet. Examples are EDCOM (for education), PIDS (for economics + they basically work with NEDA, so you will definitely see how they turn data into policy), and PRLS (for Bangsamoro-related issues), among others. Finally, listen to how your neighborhood discusses the issue. You would be surprised at the insights, perspectives, and takes that you get.

Now, what should you read? Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Young Blood publishes columns from the young, until the age of 29. In addition, read the opinion pages of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, Manila Times, and Rappler to see how their writers compose their columns. All of these papers, read together, would give you a decent spectrum of ideas on which to work on (and yes, they all represent different voices in the country’s social and political sectors, in case it was not obvious to you now). New York Times and The Guardian are also good for international topics (among many others)!

If you want something that is Facebook-native, read Transit Dialog. It also provides a range of opinions and perspectives, though you should take note that they also publish personal essays and the occasional satire/poetry/fiction/hybrid piece, so read carefully. There is also the Bangsamoro Literary Review: While there are a metric ton of literary pieces there, the nonfiction also comes with opinions, so try to read them.  Read their editorial and essay sections to find out how the young feel about issues in their locality (this is an example of a local text that is forward and national-facing).

As for books with examples of column writing, especially ones from the last few years, I’d personally suggest Joel Pablo Salud’s Shot Glass (basically columns for the social media age) and Gideon Lasco’s The Philippines Is Not A Small Country (basically columns with a sociological and hot take twist). Take note that they cost a bit, but these are books that will be useful for the rest of your life.

To summarize: A column is a piece of personal opinion, unlike the editorial that is written in the third person. That means “I”. It has to have a topic (of course, otherwise, why would you have an opinion about it?), a theme (the approach), a main argument, a perspective, and your voice. Make sure that you write for your target audience!

May you find this reader on column writing for press conferences useful…though this also applies to real-life column writing as well. Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor in the press conference! Let the games – este, bonding begin!


Other resources include:

University of Missouri on Column Writing
Harvard University on Column Writing

Also, read the author’s take on more parks here!

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