Climbing down from the ivory tower.Most newspapers are accused of it, but the Spokane Spokesman-Review really does Warren Trotter, better known as Really Doe, is an American rapper from Chicago, Illinois. He is affiliated with Kanye West and his G.O.O.D. Music family and label. Discography
medieval European church waterspouts; made in form of grotesque creatures. [Architecture: NCE, 1046]
See : Ugliness perpetually scowling scowl
v. scowled, scowl·ing, scowls
To wrinkle or contract the brow as an expression of anger or disapproval. See Synonyms at frown.
v.tr. at the perpetual fog.
But appearances, The Spokesman-Review would have you know, are deceptive. In fact, a little over a year ago, the newspaper announced it would no longer occupy an ivory tower ivory tower
A place or attitude of retreat, especially preoccupation with lofty, remote, or intellectual considerations rather than practical everyday life. built on the voices of professional opinion writers and other elites. Instead, it abandoned the title "editorial page editor," declared its opinion pages a forum for public journalism Public journalism may mean:
Editorial board member and "interactive editor" Rebecca Nappi, who once heard someone sum up arrogant editorial sections as the newspaper's "be God" page, explains it like this: "We took our space to 'be God' and gave [readers] the space. Less God space, more people space."
But at the same time that it opened up that space to the public to a degree no other paper has, unveiling what it calls the reinvented, interactive opinion page, it opened itself to charges of abdicating one of journalism's most treasured, carefully guarded traditions: its institutional voice.
The Spokesman-Review is, in fact an excellent place to preview the next stage of the debate over "public" or "civic" versus "traditional" journalism: the coming changes to the editorial page.
Editorialists of the future had better be ready to welcome the public into their sanctums. Already some help-wanted ads in professional journals specify editorial page editors who will encourage reader contributions and care deeply about issues.
Questionnaires about editorial page editors' opinions and activities involving public journalism are being mailed to 600 members of the National Conference of Editorial Writers by University of Texas at Austin “University of Texas” redirects here. For other system schools, see University of Texas System.
The University of Texas at Austin (often referred to as The University of Texas, UT Austin, UT, or Texas researchers, working in conjunction with the NCEW NCEW National Conference of Editorial Writers . That project is only one step toward this fall's NCEW annual conference, where public journalism is slated to be a major topic.
"There is a fertile opportunity for opening up a broader dialogue that reaches above and beyond letters to the editor," says NCEW president Tommy Denton, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's senior editorial writer and columnist. "So far, it's a trend that is conceptual but not widespread, but it is a concept that has tremendous promise."
Spokesman-Review editor Chris Peck goes much further. "Public journalism," he says, "will save the editorial pages."
But others see some proposed changes as the first step toward "dumbing down" the section that they say is, in this age of talk radio and cyberspace Coined by William Gibson in his 1984 novel "Neuromancer," it is a futuristic computer network that people use by plugging their minds into it! The term now refers to the Internet or to the online or digital world in general. See Internet and virtual reality. Contrast with meatspace. chatter, a last refuge for reasoned, informed opinion and the powerful institutional voice. Though nearly all editors interviewed for this article say they've begun changing their sections by making them more diverse and democratic, none wants to go as far as Spokane. And some actively distrust the industry's embrace of public journalism, a philosophy they say has yet to be defined or tested.
Jay Rosen Jay Rosen (born May 5, 1956 in Buffalo, New York) is a press critic, a writer, and a professor of journalism at New York University.
He is a strong supporter of citizen journalism, encouraging the press to take a more active interest in citizenship, improving public debate, , a New York University New York University, mainly in New York City; coeducational; chartered 1831, opened 1832 as the Univ. of the City of New York, renamed 1896. It comprises 13 schools and colleges, maintaining 4 main centers (including the Medical Center) in the city, as well as the professor and public journalism's leading academic advocate, says, "It is a legitimate aspiration to want to speak with authority to the community . . . and the traditional method of doing that with editorials works pretty well. But I also believe editorial pages ought to be a forum for the community, and the real trick is to make it a deliberative de·lib·er·a·tive
1. Assembled or organized for deliberation or debate: a deliberative legislature.
2. Characterized by or for use in deliberation or debate. forum that is also engaging."
Change is natural, not nefarious, says Bailey Thomson, a Ph.D. in media history and associate editor of editorial pages at The Mobile Press Register. He recently oversaw o·ver·saw
Past tense of oversee. a joint editorial board/newsroom public journalism project. "There's been a tendency to see journalism as a march toward a professional model that is almost iron-clad in its principles. . . . I see public journalism as a very conservative effort to broaden the model a bit and take into account a stake in this enterprise called democracy that goes beyond just publishing the news."
Adds Nappi: "If what we're doing is considered controversial and cutting edge, then the whole industry is in trouble."
While few agree on the best approach to implementing public journalism on the editorial pages, there are a lot of ideas out there, falling roughly into two categories: format and policy changes on the page itself for improved reader input, and involvement in projects aimed at addressing specific issues - campaigns, local concerns, major problems. Responding to charges of arrogance, some papers have stopped endorsing political candidates, begun signing editorials, and invited focus groups in to chat. Some arrange town meetings and forums. Most are printing more letters than ever before; some print dozens of anonymous call-in comments a day.
Most say getting more voices in the paper and getting the community more involved in its own destiny is a good idea. Many say they've always tried to. Others ask, how far should we go?
Some in the industry are skeptical about whether such changes are a move in the right direction. "The fact is, we live in a time when American journalism is undergoing a very damaging change, moving toward a tabloid or a British journalism continuum," says New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times editorial page editor Howell Raines Howell Hiram Raines (born February 5, 1943 in Birmingham, Alabama) was Executive Editor of The New York Times from 2001 until his resignation following the Jayson Blair scandal in 2003. He currently writes political commentary for British newspaper The Guardian. . "If being an editorial page editor is the print equivalent of talk radio, and I'm not saying that's not a worthy activity, it's not something that engages me intellectually or will serve longtime interests" of the public.
Lynnell Burkett, then-associate director of the San Antonio San Antonio (săn ăntō`nēō, əntōn`), city (1990 pop. 935,933), seat of Bexar co., S central Tex., at the source of the San Antonio River; inc. 1837. Express-News' editorial page and this year's NCEW program chair, supports aggressive new ways to bring more readers to the page.
But, she says, "I question whether doing away with the editorial page editor, doing away with opportunities for the paper to express opinion and influence opinion, is a good thing. I wouldn't want to generalize generalize /gen·er·al·ize/ (-iz)
1. to spread throughout the body, as when local disease becomes systemic.
2. to form a general principle; to reason inductively. , but there may be some feeling among editorial page editors that this newly discovered civic journalism The civic journalism movement (also known as public journalism) is, according to professor David K. Perry of the University of Alabama, an attempt to abandon the notion that journalists and their audiences are spectators in political and social processes. is what they've been doing all along, what really good editorial pages have been about."
Richard Aregood, longtime editorial page editor at the Philadelphia Daily News The Philadelphia Daily News is a tabloid newspaper that began publishing on March 31, 1925, under founding editor Lee Ellmaker. In its early years, it was dominated by crime stories, sports and sensationalism. By 1930, daily circulation of the morning paper exceeded 200,000. who now holds the same position at The Star-Ledger in Newark, is more blunt. "If the newspaper isn't speaking as an institution, what the hell is the point?" asks the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial page editor. "Some pages are elitist e·lit·ism or é·lit·ism
1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources. . Some aren't. Shouldn't a newspaper know what its readers are concerned about anyway?"
Jane Eisner, editorial page editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer Philadelphia Inquirer
Morning newspaper, long one of the most influential dailies in the eastern U.S. Founded in 1847 as the Pennsylvania Inquirer, it took its present name c. 1860. It was a strong supporter of the Union in the American Civil War. , has deep reservations about public journalism in news pages, but sees the editorial page as "the perfect place" for it. Even so, she worries about surrendering the traditional authority of the page.
"Lately there's been a real sense of self-doubt that's crept up on many editorial boards," Eisner says. "We're questioning whether it's right to take stands and speak in one voice. That's a good question to ask, if it helps us firm up what we're doing. If we're arrogant and elitist in our opinions, we should consider better ways of arriving at them."
But will editors who are so acutely attuned at·tune
tr.v. at·tuned, at·tun·ing, at·tunes
1. To bring into a harmonious or responsive relationship: an industry that is not attuned to market demands.
2. to readers remain independent enough to take unpopular editorial stands? Most great moments in American editorial page history rose out of opposition to majority points of view. Before the Civil War, abolitionist editors were harassed and assaulted, and one, Elijah Lovejoy of the St. Louis Observer, was killed in Illinois. In the 1970s a number of newspapers called for the end of the Vietnam War Vietnam War, conflict in Southeast Asia, primarily fought in South Vietnam between government forces aided by the United States and guerrilla forces aided by North Vietnam. and for Richard Nixon's resignation, long before public opinion concurred.
Southern editors and publishers who advocated integration, like The Atlanta Constitution's Ralph McGill For the football player of the same name see Ralph McGill (football player).
Ralph Emerson McGill (February 5, 1898 – February 3, 1969), American journalist, was best known as the anti-segregationist editor and publisher of the Atlanta Constitution and Hazel Brannon Smith Hazel Freeman Brannon Smith (February 4, 1914, Alabama City, Alabama - May 15, 1994, Cleveland, Tennessee), the owner and editor of four weekly of the Lexington Advertiser in Mississippi, took great personal and financial risks. Today, newspapers that criticize popular conservative politics face opposition like that of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who recently told business leaders to consider pulling their advertising because of the "socialists" on many editorial boards.
But public journalism advocates say their philosophy only strengthens their passion for taking strong stands that run against the tide Against The Tide is an EP by Mêlée, released in Jul 8, 2003 by Independent record label Hopeless Records. Track listing
The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ, formerly known as Sigma Delta Chi national award for editorial writing. (His father won the Pulitzer for editorials in 1945.) Carter is also chair of the advisory board for the Pew PEW. A seat in a church separated from all others, with a convenient space to stand therein.
2. It is an incorporeal interest in the real property. And, although a man has the exclusive right to it, yet, it seems, he cannot maintain trespass against a person Center for Civic Journalism, which will fund 11 public journalism projects this year.
Carter says he has great hope for civic journalism as a way to reform newspapers as a whole. "I am encouraged by much of what I see," he says. "Anything that goes by the name of civic journalism that has the effect of muffling the voice of the newspaper is something else. It's marketing."
But others are concerned. In 1991, The Birmingham News won a Pulitzer for its editorials calling for tax reform in Alabama, which was still staunchly opposed by many of the state's special interest groups and voters. Editorial page editor Ron Casey
Ron Casey AM MBE (28 December, 1927 - June 19, 2000) was an Australian rules football administrator, commentator and television pioneer. says he doubts that the acclaimed work would have been written in pages like Spokane's. "A newspaper ought to be a voice in the community, not just a mediator," says Casey, who heard Peck speak in Phoenix last fall. "As I understood it, [Spokane] has virtually given up the newspaper having an institutional voice. I'm not sure this is a very good idea."
On February 6, 1994, the Perspective section of the Sunday Spokesman-Review unveiled its "reinvented" opinion pages, announcing, "We have turned the majority of the space on these pages over to you - now do something with it."
Inside, John Webster, named to the new position of "opinion editor," wrote in the paper's first signed editorial: "We editorial writers want to climb down from the ivory tower and introduce ourselves.... Within our industry, some of the changes we have made will cause a considerable clucking of tongues. In spite of their eager assault upon other institutions, editorial pages have mossy moss·y
adj. moss·i·er, moss·i·est
1. Covered with moss or something like moss: mossy banks.
2. Resembling moss.
3. Old-fashioned; antiquated. bulwarks of their own."
The changes were sweeping. The staff of the editorial page, Webster and Peck say, was too hierarchical; the section is now a "team effort," with a board that includes two women. Editorials were cut from 13 to eight a week, each topped by a summary headline and signed by the writer "for the editorial board." Occasionally, another board member or staffer will rebut To defeat, dispute, or remove the effect of the other side's facts or arguments in a particular case or controversy.
When a defendant in a lawsuit proves that the plaintiff's allegations are not true, the defendant has thereby rebutted them.
TO REBUT. the editorial in a feature called "Both Sides."
The paper runs fewer syndicated columnists and a page a day goes to readers' letters or cartoons, one of which is chosen for the monthly Golden Pen Award (a 10-karat gold Cross pen).
Longer pieces by locals are featured in the Sunday Perspective section where, for instance, a sportscaster explained why he stopped wearing his toupee. The more frequent "Your Turn" feature offers shorter essays by readers; topics have included a school volunteer's fear of displaying physical affection to children and the regretful re·gret·ful
Full of regret; sorrowful or sorry.
re·gret musings of a woman who stepped around a homeless man on the sidewalk. The works are solicited, polished, and sometimes virtually ghostwritten Ghostwritten is the first novel published by the author David Mitchell. Published in 1999, it won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and was widely acclaimed. The story takes place mainly around East Asia, but also moves through Russia, Britain and the USA. by interactive editors Rebecca Nappi and Doug Floyd.
Poles apart in philosophy and approach, Nappi and Floyd sit together in a cubicle on the features side of the newsroom. Nappi was elevated from features to the editorial board and Floyd was demoted from editorial page editor. Between them is posted a handmade flier titled "Interactivity: The formative years," featuring photocopied photos of both editors as children. Beneath Floyd's photo are typed the words: "I won't eat zucchini zucchini
Subspecies of Cucurbita pepo, dark green elongate summer squash in the gourd family, of great abundance in U.S. home gardens and supermarkets. The creeping vine has five-lobed leaves, tendrils, and large yellow flowers. , Becky. You can't make me write about it!" Under Nappi's: "Lighten up Lighten up
Selling some part of a stock or bond position in a portfolio to realize capital gains or to losses or increase cash assets.
lighten up , Doug. You just need to get in touch with your feelings."
The background? On a slow news day late last summer, the editorial board decided that the topic really concerning the citizens of Spokane at the moment was the annual glut glut pronounced as rut, slut Vox populi An excess of a service or skilled labor in a particular area. See Physician glut. of zucchini from household gardens. Nappi wrote a tongue-in-cheek editorial supporting the much-maligned vegetable. Then-managing editor Peck wrote against it.
"Why does the editorial board always have to be serious?" asks Nappi who, like Floyd, spends hours talking to Noun 1. talking to - a lengthy rebuke; "a good lecture was my father's idea of discipline"; "the teacher gave him a talking to"
rebuke, reprehension, reprimand, reproof, reproval - an act or expression of criticism and censure; "he had to the public and soliciting essays. "We can occasionally have fun on that page and draw people in who don't ordinarily read it."
Managing editor for opinion and presentation Scott Sines defends the double helping of zucchini. "For every zucchini [editorial]," he says, "we have 30 to 40 of substance." But the "substance" is lighter on politics and government, a move Nappi applauds. She almost never read the editorial pages before joining the board, says the former USA Today USA Today
National U.S. daily general-interest newspaper, the first of its kind. Launched in 1982 by Allen Neuharth, head of the Gannett newspaper chain, it reached a circulation of one million within a year and surpassed two million in the 1990s. political reporter. While she believes some political commentary is vital, "I hate politics. That's not where people live.... [The old pages] were boring to people who didn't like politics.
Sines says the pages have been "a tremendous success.... The pages have become so popular, they overwhelm the rest of the paper." Peck says readers have "definitely noticed we have a diversity of views." Neither Peck nor publisher Stacey Cowles could comment on the changes' effect on circulation.
Floyd, on the other hand, is saddened that some of the topics are so trivial, especially since the number of editorials has been cut almost in half. "Look at what we write about," he says. 'We have gone overboard o·ver·board
Over or as if over the side of a boat or ship.
To go to extremes, especially as a result of enthusiasm. . We've devoted an increasing number of [editorials] to frivolous topics, and it has resulted in a package that is a retreat on the part of our responsibility for standing up, for taking a stand.... We ponder too much."
Floyd says the paper has "caved in" to an idea that readers always need to be entertained. "We have made a conscious decision that people are fed up with a steady diet of government and politics," says Floyd. "We have this idea that everything should be fun. But sometimes it requires work. Democracy is hard. I don't think we expect enough of the citizens in this country."
Peer reaction also has not been warm. Sines says when he addressed a group of Knight-Ridder editorial page editors in Miami in October, "They hated me. They were offended that we had such disregard for the traditional editorial page values. We think we have to decide whether those values have value."
But Webster says he's heard favorable comments too, his favorite coming from an editor who told him the Spokane paper was experimenting in areas where others feared to tread. "When it comes to matters of journalistic tradition, [the press] is as conservative as they come," says Webster. "We're afraid, and maybe we should be afraid, about what the future of our daily newspaper business is."
How afraid should editorial page writers be? Though everyone knows that overall readership is declining, a 1994 Newspaper Association of America The Newspaper Association of America is a United States trade association that represents the country's largest daily newspapers and provides services including market research, technology education and support, minority hiring and representing publishers in Washington, D.C. survey of 22,400 readers indicates that editorial pages rate higher in readership (at 79%) than any section except general news (95%). The study also found that older, better educated, and wealthier readers read the editorial section, as do more women.
Editorial page readership is "much stronger than common wisdom and newsroom myth" suggests, wrote Susan Al-bright, editorial page editor at Minneapolis' Star Tribune For the Wyoming newspaper, see .
The Star Tribune (also Star trib or Strib, as it is often referred to) is the largest newspaper in the U.S. , in a report for the NCEW's task force on readership. But she pointed out that more readers now are "browsers" who read only what interests them, and more minority, youthful, and female voices are needed to attract these readers.
Changes are already in place. A University of Georgia Organization
The President of the University of Georgia (as of 2007, Michael F. Adams) is the head administrator and is appointed and overseen by the Georgia Board of Regents. study shows that by 1992, 92% of newspapers with circulation between 25,001 and 100,000 had women editorialists. (Overall, the numbers jumped from 12% in 1975 to 32%.) But the 2% minority representation on editorial boards was unchanged, and other factors continue to identify editorial boards as exclusive: With their older, more educated memberships, they "more clearly resemble a classic profession than any other sector of journalism," say Indiana University Indiana University, main campus at Bloomington; state supported; coeducational; chartered 1820 as a seminary, opened 1824. It became a college in 1828 and a university in 1838. The medical center (run jointly with Purdue Univ. researchers.
Does that make them "the elite"? To a public grown increasingly contemptuous con·temp·tu·ous
Manifesting or feeling contempt; scornful.
con·temptu·ous·ly adv. and cynical toward institutions and authorities, it seem so. Editorial page editor Virgil Swing says his paper, the Duluth News-Tribune in Minnesota, recently stopped endorsing political candidates because readers repeatedly told the board they resented it. In fact, when an unpopular editorial or cartoon is printed, the response is sometimes surprisingly vitriolic, he says. "It's not so much disagreeing with us, but denying our very right to print something like that."
Spokane travel editor Graham Vink asserts that not every opinion is valid. He says he is dismayed by "this seeming explosion in the country, this fascination with individual opinion" that TV and radio talk shows have fostered.
"There are a lot of people out there who have no idea what they're talking about," he says. "I've heard it said, 'Americans have opinions on everything and knowledge of nothing.'. . . Where else [besides an editorial page] am I going to get informed opinion?"
Some editors wonder where they can find the extra personnel and space needed to solicit, edit, talk with, and publish these voices. Rena Pederson, [NCEW vice president and] editorial page editor of the Dallas Morning News, says she does much of her work at home at night to be more available to the public during the day. Some editors, like Denton in Fort Worth and Aregood in Newark, say they'd like to see some cost analysis.
Marvin Kalb Marvin Kalb (born June 9 1930) is an American journalist.
Marvin Kalb is a Senior Fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy and Faculty Chair for the John F. Kennedy School of Government's Washington programs. , veteran journalist and director of Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy, says in these days of intense competition for space and spiraling newsprint costs, journalists should jealously guard their shrinking newsholes. "Every page, every half-page is precious. If you give it to Mr. or Mrs. Joe Blow just to make them feel good . . . it's not a good use of space."
But that's not what public journalists want to do, says Jay Rosen, agreeing that patronizing readers is not useful. Instead, journalists should foster deliberative debate by holding citizens "to a certain standard . . . rather than condescendingly con·de·scend·ing
Displaying a patronizingly superior attitude: "The independent investor's desire to play individual stocks may well worry some market veterans, but that smacks a little of Wall Street's usual treasuring everything they say because it comes from an ordinary person."
The New York Times' Raines is also concerned about the level of discourse. "I got in [journalism] 30 years ago when journalism students were taught to write down to readers," he says. "I thought it was wrong then, and I think it's wrong now . . . [to] sand off edges of opinion, conduct demographic studies of your readership, and find out what they think and then feed it back to them."
Raines acknowledges the Times' readership is not average, but adds, "I worked for six newspapers, and I always thought they prospered when they aimed at the outside upper limit of the intellectual capacity of their audience.... The last thing we need to do is get into the pandering or cheapening business."
Floyd agrees. "We break the newspaper into different sections for a reason," he says. "If I like orange juice, I don't go to the hardware store to get it. You have the editorial pages for a purpose, to attract a certain kind of reader. I'm not saying you shouldn't broaden it. But so much of what we have done is market-driven."
Adds Kalb: "If the motivation were simply to reconnect the public with the political process, I'd be less antsy ant·sy
adj. ant·si·er, ant·si·est Slang
1. Restless or impatient; fidgety: The long wait made the children antsy.
2. [about public journalism]. But the motivation is equally an economic one. They are seeking to increase their ratings and circulation."
That's not the case, says Ed Fouhy, executive director of the Pew Center. "This public is so deeply alienated al·ien·ate
tr.v. al·ien·at·ed, al·ien·at·ing, al·ien·ates
1. To cause to become unfriendly or hostile; estrange: alienate a friend; alienate potential supporters by taking extreme positions. from journalism in all its forms that for the first few years it views these initiatives through a prism of suspicion.... [They assume] they are being manipulated in order to build circulation."
Spokane may be pushing frontiers, but many other papers have begun personalizing their opinion pages.
Many run a daily list of their board members. Some papers have for years published occasional explanations of their editorial process. More than a month before Spokane announced its reinvented pages, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution used its Perspective section to explain features and policies of the pages and to print photos, biographies, and favorite quotes of the two editorial boards' members.
In an introduction, Constitution editorial page associate editor Jay Bookman summarized a changed philosophy: "Editorial pages have long served as a newspaper's pulpit, from which publishers and editors preached their own version of truth," he wrote. "Fairness, or letting the other side have its say, was a concept that simply didn't exist....
"Today, the editorial page (at this and other papers) is more a debating society a society or club for the purpose of debate and improvement in extemporaneous speaking.
See also: Debating than a pulpit.... Editorials are no longer meant to be the final word on a subject; part of their purpose now is to set the agenda for further debate."
Others agree with this definition of the role of editorial pages. On some issues, "we're trying not to swing as big a hammer as an institution, not trying to hand down tablets from on high," says Jack Ehn, editorial page editor of The Albuquerque Tribune. "We're trying to call for public discussion on these issues instead." Instead of arguing against a controversial shopping center shopping center, a concentration of retail, service, and entertainment enterprises designed to serve the surrounding region. The modern shopping center differs from its antecedents—bazaars and marketplaces—in that the shops are usually amalgamated into project, the paper called for public hearings, "and believe it or not, [the city] ended up doing it."
"Tone makes all the difference," says Glenn Scott, associate editor of The Virginian-Pilot and The Ledger-Star in Norfolk. "If you come in like God Almighty, you're not going to be heard.... Look how destructive journalism is in so many places. It treats people with contempt. It approaches all public officials as if they were rogues."
But most editors, including those at Spokane, say they remain committed to taking controversial stands. "We shouldn't abdicate ab·di·cate
v. ab·di·cat·ed, ab·di·cat·ing, ab·di·cates
To relinquish (power or responsibility) formally.
To relinquish formally a high office or responsibility. our responsibility to take positions on issues," says Dallas' Pederson. "All that education and training has got to be worth something."
Still, many editors say few readers understand, much less appreciate, newspaper traditions - such as the editorial "We," the institutional voice. So for more than 10 years, the Years, The
the seven decades of Eleanor Pargiter’s life. [Br. Lit.: Benét, 1109]
See : Time Grand Forks Herald The Grand Forks Herald is a daily broadsheet newspaper, begun in 1879, printed in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It is the primary daily paper for northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. Its average daily circulation is 34,763 on Sundays and 31,524 on weekdays. in North Dakota North Dakota, state in the N central United States. It is bordered by Minnesota, across the Red River of the North (E), South Dakota (S), Montana (W), and the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (N). has been signing its editorials, says editorial page editor Liz Fedor.
"The purpose was to demystify de·mys·ti·fy
tr.v. de·mys·ti·fied, de·mys·ti·fy·ing, de·mys·ti·fies
To make less mysterious; clarify: an autobiography that demystified the career of an eminent physician. the editorial process," she says. "The thinking is, even if one is speaking with a so-called institutional voice it makes sense for readers to know who is speaking. It's more candid."
Webster at Spokane says the practice is a matter of honesty and clarity. "It just puts a human face on that comment," he says. "This anonymous statement from this tower, telling [people] what to think, this thundering arrogance from on high doesn't seem like a real good, healthy way to develop relationships with readers or even, necessarily, to persuade."
San Antonio Express-News' Lynnell Burkett disagrees. She says, "It just becomes another opinion. I wonder if it carries the same weight and if it's confusing as well. People look at it and say, 'Who's this?'"
Another "arrogant" tradition - endorsements - is changing, too. A University of Georgia study found 64% of papers making presidential endorsements in 1992, down from 81% in 1975. Papers opting out of endorsement altogether almost doubled, from 13% to 23%.
In Duluth, Swing says the beleaguered be·lea·guer
tr.v. be·lea·guered, be·lea·guer·ing, be·lea·guers
1. To harass; beset: We are beleaguered by problems.
2. To surround with troops; besiege. editorial board substituted "recommend" for "endorsing" in one election, then announced on October 24 that the paper had found a "more effective way" to perform its "historic obligation . . . to provide an informed opinion" at election time. Now the paper runs lists of "What We Like" and "What Concerns Us" about each candidate. Including all candidates, Swing says, earns points for objectivity.
Readers seem satisfied but, Swing admits, "I hate to get out of the endorsement business. More and more papers are. . . . It's a shame. Endorsements, more than most things, are something newspapers do well."
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Eisner calls suspending endorsements "copping out. We have the luxury of meeting the candidates, interviewing them, talking with them.... It's still important for us to say we represent the citizens, asking the citizens' questions."
In some ways, the most controversial facets of public journalism - advocacy and activism - are the least of most editors' worries. "It's a lot more OK on the editorial page than the news [sections]," says The Birmingham News' Ron Casey.
Yet, points out Maxwell E. McCombs, professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, most public journalism projects have been news-side ventures. McCombs is conducting the NCEW survey of editorial pages.
McCombs also studied the now-defunct San Antonio Light's 1992 public journalism projects. After its editorial page announced an agenda of children's issues, its news sections printed 2,500 stories on those priorities. As a result, McCombs says, the city increased funds for 10 programs by about 13%.
That's positive agenda setting, says McCombs, and Burkett, who was then at the Light, agrees. "If there's a clear community problem, the paper should be reporting on it, people should be reading about it," Burkett says. "But in cases such as where candidates are being endorsed, the idea of having no lines at all could affect news coverage.... There's room for experiment, if it's done gingerly gin·ger·ly
With great care or delicacy; cautiously.
[Possibly alteration of obsolete French gensor, delicate ."
Some take a harder line on partnerships between the news and editorial pages. Unfortunately, "the only newspaper I'm aware of where the border is inviolate in·vi·o·late
Not violated or profaned; intact: "The great inviolate place had an ancient permanence which the sea cannot claim" Thomas Hardy. is The Wall Street Journal," say Kalb. "They continue to erect and maintain those walls."
At The Philadelphia Inquirer, the editorial board's project titled "Common Ground" is paying for and publishing a consultant's report on improving city-county operations, and it has editorialized, arranged one televised town meeting and radio programs, and printed comments. But the news staff isn't involved, says Eisner.
"Our intent is on maintaining the wall between the editorial board and the newsroom," says Eisner. "I think it's dangerous for the news side to become advocates. We have a very precious role in being observers."
The same holds true at The Seattle Times. "We keep quite a wall between news and editorial," says editorial page editor Mindy Cameron. Times news staffers did follow the Wichita Eagle and The Charlotte Observer, which were the public journalism models of campaign coverage, by having readers formulate many of the questions asked of candidates and the issues the newspaper covered. But the editorial board "pursued our own path.... Public journalism is alive and well at The Seattle Times. It's just not being led by the editorial page," says Cameron, "and I think that's just fine."
However, Tom Still, associate editor of the Wisconsin State Journal The Wisconsin State Journal is a daily newspaper published in Madison, Wisconsin by Capital Newspapers. The newspaper, the second largest in Wisconsin, is primarily distributed in a 19 county region in south-central Wisconsin. in Madison, sees little problem with meshing the news and editorial pages in the paper's "We The People/Wisconsin" project. Begun during the 1992 campaigns, the project - funded partially by the Pew Center - focuses on an important issue every three months, and combines news coverage and a televised town meeting as a way of moving toward solutions, he says. Other partners include the Pew Center and local television, radio, and corporate and academic sponsors.
"We're not using this to pump anything but citizen involvement," says Still, who notes that surveys show that of those in the county who know about the project, 11% were more likely to vote. "We aren't manufacturing issues. If [news and editorial] overlap at some point, ok.... Our editorial voice right now is stronger than it's ever been."
In Mobile, two Press Register editorial writers briefly became reporters again for a project called "Sin of the Fathers," a 36-page tabloid reporting on problems caused by Alabama's 1991 state constitution. Later, a series of editorials in the paper called for a constitutional convention, says Bailey Thomson, the paper's editorial pages editor.
Thomson saw no conflict. "We believe good journalists can do different tasks that are assigned to them," says Thomson. The paper is working with Auburn University Auburn University, main campus at Auburn, Ala.; land-grant and state supported; opened 1859 as East Alabama Male College, reorganized 1872 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama; became coeducational 1892; renamed Alabama Polytechnic Institute 1899, on a statewide conference, and Alabama Public Television Alabama Public Television is a network of PBS member stations serving the US state of Alabama. The stations are licensed by the Alabama Educational Television Commission which was created by the Alabama state legislature in 1953. is filming a documentary on the issue.
Rosen calls the Mobile project an example of real public journalism: "It's not just a series of articles or editorials. They are actually considering how they are going to take it to the next step."
The real question, says Rosen, isn't "telling the community what to think or reflecting it, not being elitist or being populist.... It's how can we, with a lot of other actors, create a better conversation about the legitimate concerns of public life?" Journalists must learn to think of readers as citizens, "which is a much richer identity."
Both advocates and critics of public journalism say the concept is evolving. Most editors agree with The Seattle Times' Cameron that "the most important thing is every editorial page needs to be thinking about these topics. The greater danger is in not asking those questions. We do tend to be too hidebound hidebound
said of skin that is not easily lifted from the subcutaneous tissue. Occurs in emaciated animals because of the absence of fat and connective tissue rather than absence of fluid. , too slow to change, too pompous pom·pous
1. Characterized by excessive self-esteem or exaggerated dignity; pretentious: pompous officials who enjoy giving orders.
Most remain almost as ambivalent as Doug Floyd in Spokane, who says his "misgivings" about the Spokane project concern "the diminishment of our editorial presence in the community ... and increasing obscurity about institutional commitment."
But, he adds, he is ready to accept public journalism as a new way for editorial pages to survive and guide their communities. "I'm not sour about public journalism. In fact, I'm excited about it.... [I hope it] can provide the kind of civic leadership that vigorous editorializing once did."
Judith Sheppard, a former newspaper reporter in Georgia and Alabama, teaches journalism at Auburn University. This article first appeared in American Journalism Review The American Journalism Review is a national magazine covering topics in journalism. It is published six times a year by the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. , May 1995.