No page in The Daily Item gets as much reaction on a regular basis as our Opinion page.
Each day, we publish a robust range of voices and ideas from editors, columnists and readers.
We anchor it with an editorial — a roughly 300-word consensus of the thoughts of Publisher Fred Scheller, me, Managing Editors Bill Bowman and David Hilliard, and, in some cases, members of our community advisory board.
We also publish letters to the editor, “My Turn” local columns, and an average of one nationally syndicated opinion column each day. When we have an abundance of local submissions — which is often the case — the national column is the first thing to go. We want the page to be as local as possible.
Sometimes I get asked why we bother with opinions. Why don’t we just report the news and let readers decide for themselves?
It’s a fair question.
First of all, regardless of what we write, readers are still going decide for themselves. We are fortunate to have an engaged readership, parts of which routinely let us know what they think.
Beyond that, editorials and the other opinion pieces are great conversation starters. They give readers a sense of what the community is thinking.
News stories are meant to inform. Editorials, if done well, engage readers and make them think.
The vast majority of our editorials are on local or state issues. That’s how it should be at a community newspaper.
When we hit on a topic of particular interest, letters and columns and Facebook postings often flow in for days and even weeks.
The worst thing that can happen is the rare occasion when we write about a topic not many seem to care about. When it comes to Opinion pages, being disagreed with is fine. Being ignored is not.
Newspaper opinion sections tend to operate with an editorial board. At large, big-city newspapers, membership on those boards is often separate from the news team.
At smaller and mid-sized newspapers, including The Daily Item, staff size is not large enough to make that separation possible. Here, the publisher and editors gather each Wednesday to discuss topics and our opinions about them.
For the past two years, we’ve also had a diverse community advisory board, with a rotating group of 7-8 men and women who help us form the newspaper’s consensus. Their names are listed each day on the bottom of the Opinion page.
We do not publish anonymous submissions. If you send an anonymous letter, you have wasted your time, plus a few seconds of mine until I notice the lack of a signature.
Speaking of signatures, recently, to be as transparent as possible, we have taken the fairly unusual step of listing the author of the editorial each at the bottom of the piece.
Editorials, I want to stress, are the only place in the paper where Daily Item opinions appear. They have no bearing on the stories we cover or how we report them.
It’s easy to be part of the Opinion page process. Letters (275 words) and My Turns (700 words) can be emailed to me and Bowman (firstname.lastname@example.org.) Letters can also be input on our web page.
I encourage you all to share your views...as long as you are willing to sign your name.
Email comments to email@example.com.