Calling on readers for Op/Ed content
August 15, 2004
Traditionally, the opinion/editorial section in your newspaper – whether it’s a small community paper like the Tahoe Daily Tribune, or an international paper like The New York Times – is one of the best read, most inciting, most controversial parts of the publication.
People don’t necessarily depend on our editorials or columns to shape their opinions, but what we publish does serve as a reference point for larger debates, locally, nationally and internationally. Newspapers use these pages to give voice to opinion, conjecture and unobjective discourse. We allow letters, cartoons, columns and editorials that approach the news from a different perspective, and we open our newspaper and the larger community to criticism and kudos.
Newspapers have a unique responsibility in the community, and the opinion/editorial section is the best example of how we fulfill it. We are one of the few institutions, for example, that publishes our critics. Can you imagine a restaurant with a bulletin board covered with food and service reviews, both positive and negative? We can. And except for talk radio, the newspaper is the individual’s only way to communicate to the masses.
The opinion/editorial section is also where our accountability and credibility is put to the test. It’s no surprise to most of our readers that newspapers make mistakes. While we try our best to minimize them, they get into the paper now and then. It can be something as simple as a typo, or something more complex like a misquote or a misleading headline. It happens, people justifiably complain, and we try to do better next time. We like this process to be transparent, one of the functions of the Op/Ed section.
Over the next few months, the Tribune would like to expand the role of the Op/Ed section by inviting more community members to express their opinions through columns. Regular readers may have noticed the addition of local businessman Patrick Ronan’s column to these pages. He writes about community life in South Tahoe and how it relates to his business life. We think readers find this unfiltered, independent voice valuable. And we want more of them.
If you have a desire to be included in a column rotation on our Op/Ed page, or know somebody you would like to see write for us, please drop me a line. We also intend to go out to the community over the next couple months, and solicit contributions from local political, business, legal and social leaders. We will also continue to run nationally syndicated columnists, and would certainly consider adding columnists you have read in other papers, and would like to see here.
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And, of course, we also want to continue printing your letters, so please sound off. We don’t promise to print every letter, but we try to get in as many as possible. Please remember our letter guidelines, and expect a call from us to verify authorship, and if we have any questions pertaining to editing for clarity or length.
– Jim Scripps, managing editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune, can be reached at email@example.com
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