Brent Boyer: Unmasking the Editorial Board
April 23, 2009
One of the most rewarding and challenging parts of my job is leading the newspaper’s Editorial Board. For 90 minutes every Tuesday, our six-member group debates important issues happening in our community and beyond, with the end goal being group consensus on two editorial positions for the week.
With our diverse individual viewpoints, it’s often impossible to reach consensus on certain issues. When we can’t, we move on to other topics. When we can, the responsibility of crafting the editorial typically falls in my lap. But by no means is the editorial representative exclusively of my own opinions. Rather, it’s written using input contributed by each member of the Editorial Board.
The reason I bring this up is because of a letter to the editor penned last week by Steamboat Springs resident Omar Campbell. Many of you probably recognize Omar’s name from his frequent letters, which often take the city and developers to task on growth-related issues. His favorite issue of late is the proposed Steamboat 700 development, but Omar usually has no problem finding other bones to pick with elected officials and the newspaper.
In his letter Sunday, Omar questioned the Pilot & Today’s recent editorial about a public vote on the annexation of Steamboat 700. Omar specifically took issue with the opinion piece’s “semi-anonymous author.”
Omar’s gripe is that our editorials don’t include a byline identifying their author. In most cases, that person is me. On occasion, City Editor Mike Lawrence or reporter Tom Ross take on the writing responsibility. But again, the editorials always are reflective of the consensus reached by the entire Editorial Board. The Editorial Board includes me, Lawrence, Ross, Publisher Suzanne Schlicht and two community representatives who serve four-month volunteer terms. Former Steamboat Springs city manager Paul Hughes and Georgia transplant Gail Smith currently occupy those positions.
We strive to make sure our readers know who sits on the Editorial Board – and who is therefore responsible for forming the Our View editorials that appear in the Wednesday and Sunday editions of the paper. Not only is it important for newspapers to let their readers know where they stand on issues, but readers should know who’s behind those positions. That’s why you can find the names of all six Editorial Board members on the ViewPoints page of every edition of the Steamboat Pilot & Today. On Sundays, those names can be found right above the editorial. On the other six days of the week, the names of Editorial Board members are to the right of our commentaries.
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I don’t expect – or want – readers to agree with each of our editorials, but they deserve to know who is responsible for them. If you’d like to serve as a community representative on our board, e-mail me a letter of interest. The next four-month terms begin June 1. My e-mail address is email@example.com, and you can call me at 871-4221.