An issue is a topic of public concern that may be controversial. Whether you’re writing an article about canned lion hunting, climate change or plastic pollution, your goal is to inform readers about a particular problem and why it’s important for them to care. You can inject your personal opinion, but be careful not to sound like a radio talk show host spewing venomous diatribes against people or companies. Focus your article on the issue itself, and include practical suggestions or solutions to resolve it.
The word issue originally meant something that was put forth or issued, such as a new stamp issue or an election ballot. Today, it’s used to describe a topic of public concern, such as a political debate or an editorial in a newspaper. You can also use the term to refer to a person’s problems, as in “He’s got issues,” although this is a rather new use of the word.
To write an issue-oriented article, start by finding out what topics push your readers’ buttons. Create a file folder for the one you’re most interested in and start collecting articles, facts, statistics and names of key players. Once you’ve narrowed down your ideas, draft a single sentence that clearly states your opinion. Whenever possible, avoid attacking individuals, as this will only alienate your readership.
To make your article as engaging as possible, tell a story. Using characters is a great way to keep your audience engaged, even when your subject matter is the environment. Whether you’re writing about an elephant chomping on a palm tree or a starving African woman with flies crawling on her eyelids and a pot belly, make sure your characters have a personality and are well rounded.