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The leading article of a newspaper belongs to the opinion-oriented forms of representation , alongside the comments and the glosses / caricatures and the reviews / criticisms. It is a particularly featured opinion article.

History and concept of the leading article

The term "leading article" comes from the English leading article , which was introduced in England in the 19th century. Previously, the German leading articles were called main articles, probably because of their large size. Before there were newspapers and editorials, opinion was mostly expressed in pamphlets . There have been editorials in France since the French Revolution.

Topics and editing of an editorial

The themes of the leading articles will be determined in a (weekly) leading article conference. As a rule, all members of the editorial team have the opportunity to participate in the discussion there. The leading article usually comments on an important political or social, and increasingly also an economic, event of the day. Leading articles deal, apart from daily excitement, in a more fundamental way with social, political, economic, cultural or even sporting developments of recent times or (speculatively) with emerging developments in the near future. An editorial should end with a conclusion. Subscription newspapers and above all the national daily newspapers publish an editorial in each issue.

The editorial staff assigns the writing order to the member who is most capable of expressing the opinion of the editorial staff, whereby - unlike the comment - different positions (internal editorial conflict of opinion) may appear in the leading article.

Function of the editorial

Since the leading article is longer than the comments in most of the media that use this form of presentation, there is sufficient space for such pros and cons. As in other opinion-oriented forms of presentation, however, the reader must always be able to recognize that it is a journalistic expression of opinion and not a message or a report. Here, the opinion, especially the political opinion of the respective editor or the respective editorial team, is presented to the outside world. If, for example, the author of the respective editorial is not named in the New York Times , the article is presented as a comment from the entire editorial team. The reader is also interested in editorials that do not reflect his or her own political opinion.

In times of political crisis, the main feature of the leading article is its combative, tense words, points of view and topics. Today experts and media critics criticize the fact that the leading article is often only an explanation or explanation of facts.

Overall, the leading article is a "figurehead" for the editorial team and is generally in line with the tendency of the publication organ. In the lead article of the political direction the newspaper is reflected ( cf.. Tendency operation ).

The leading article has a permanent and permanent place in the newspaper - mostly on the front page , but the trend is for the leading article to be published on its own opinion page in the first third of the newspaper, together with the other comments.


  • Noelle-Neumann , Elisabeth; Schulz, Winfried; Wilke, Jürgen (Hrsg.): Fischer Lexikon. Journalism mass communication . Frankfurt 2000. ISBN 3596122600

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: editorials  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations