Steamboat Springs Kelly Meek's anger came through loud and clear in the phone message he left me Monday afternoon. The venerable high school boys basketball coach and former teacher was incensed about the newspaper's Sunday editorial about Steamboat Springs High School Principal Mike Knezevich.
Meek wasn't alone. We've heard from several high school staff members - one of them penned a letter to the editor that was published in Wednesday's Steamboat Today - who say we misrepresented the nature of Knezevich's staff meeting last week and in so doing unfairly slammed a respected, honorable school administrator. Many online readers also questioned the editorial.
It's not the first time one of our editorials has been the subject of intense criticism, and it certainly won't be the last. I'm OK with that. In fact, I think editorials should spark community debate and dialogue about important issues. It would be a shame if everyone agreed with what we wrote.
Some of the controversy with Sunday's editorial is based on the following sentence: "Knezevich then encouraged his teachers and staff to show up at the board meeting Monday to support him." Today, I confess that sentence isn't accurate. While Knezevich did in fact call the staff meeting to inform his faculty about his job status, he didn't specifically ask them to attend Monday's School Board meeting. Rather, he read a memo from Superintendent Dr. Sandra Smyser informing staff they were welcome to attend Monday's meeting if they wanted to comment about Knezevich.
For that mistake, I apologize to Knezevich and our readers.
However, the Editorial Board stands behind the foundation of Sunday's piece: We believe it was unprofessional for Knezevich to call the staff meeting in the first place, we believe it has created tension and division among the school's staff and we believe there was the intention, whether stated or not, to encourage staff support of their principal.
The editorial about Steamboat Springs City Council that appeared in Wednesday's newspaper also was quick to receive criticism, particularly from a couple of our online readers. One of them, who goes by the pseudonym "twostroketerror," criticized the newspaper's "self-righteous editorializing."
Editorials, by their very nature, are supposed to be opinionated. The best editorials are strongly opinionated and well-reasoned. Editorials provide an opportunity for us to interpret issues and events and to read between the lines. Hopefully, they spark conversations - if not debates - about the issue at hand. At the end of the day, I hope editorials make readers think about an issue we deem important, and perhaps even consider an opposing viewpoint.
Our editorials appear in the Wednesday and Sunday editions of the newspaper. I'm typically the one who writes them, although City Editor Mike Lawrence and longtime reporter and columnist Tom Ross sometimes pitch in. The gist of the editorials, however, is agreed upon by the six-member Editorial Board, which consists of me, Lawrence, Ross, Publisher Bryna Larsen and two community members. The community members serve four-month terms. Noreen Moore and Tom Miller-Freutel are our current community representatives; their terms expire at the end of April.
The Editorial Board meets Tuesday mornings to discuss whichever current events and issues come to mind. Everyone gets an equal opportunity to express their opinions, and we typically rely on a democratic vote to decide whether to weigh in on a particular issue. We may not always agree with one another, but we all respect the process.
I also want readers to know they have several avenues to express their disagreement with the Pilot & Today's editorial stances or any other newspaper issue. They can write a letter to the editor. If they choose to remain anonymous, they can comment on our Web site. And they can always call, e-mail or stop by my office to chat in person. I can be reached at (970) 871-4221 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the Editor appears in the Thursday edition of the Steamboat Today.