by Conor Friedersdorf

This profession encompasses a significant part of my writerly output. The insight I want to offer is that among the people who do this on a daily basis, there is a lot of implicit disagreement about what our purpose is or should be. I'll just list some of the different approaches I perceive.

The purpose of opinion journalism is...

1) ...to make money.

2) ...to attract an audience.

3) ...to influence people.

4) ... to generate ideas.

5) ...to advance conversations.

6) ...to help air different sides of a debate.

7) ...to help the political prospects of your ideological coalition.

8) ...to disparage ideological adversaries.

9) ...to raise the political price of trying you or your former colleagues for war crimes.

10) ...to earn a living as a writer.

11) ...to get on television.

12) ...to produce an intellectually honest argument.

13) ...to accrue social prestige.

Insofar as you see animosity among opinion journalists, the root of it is often different value judgments about which of these things, or combination of these things, is or should be our object.

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