Printer Friendly

Blend substantive journalism with personal connection: use institutional editorials judiciously.

I'll leave avenues opened by the new technologies to the techies who have been practicing them for the twenty years since I retired. I'll stick to print, because I know it and because I believe solid written journalism will still be around no matter how the product comes to be delivered.

I think editorial page staffs ought to quit grinding out a set series of dreary editorials each day. Instead, let the editor assign one institutional editorial only on days when an issue cries out for a strong statement of the paper's opinion. Keep the opinion page. Don't fire the editorial writers. Assign them instead to write signed columns. They'll write better with their names and pictures involved. Readers prefer columns to anonymous editorials, anyway. They want a real person speaking to them. Column subjects could be kicked around at what's now the editor's editorial conference and parceled out by him or her. Keep 'em short. Write 'em live or be embarrassed.

We've routinely done this in all but the A section. Sports has columnists. Business has columnists. Features has columnists. Local has columnists. People get to know them and follow what they think. My idea for editorial columnists is far from new. As editor of The Atlanta Constitution for the first eight years of the 1960s, I managed to write a column on the editorial page seven days a week. In addition to that, the publisher of the paper, Ralph McGill, wrote his signed opinion seven days a week in column one of page one. If we wanted to gain special impact with an editorial on a truly major issue we didn't hesitate to take it out to double-column display on page one, clearly labeled 'An Editorial Opinion."

A lot of editorial pages have gotten to look rote and starchy, and they can be brought alive and bright if we would move back to a more personal conversation with our readers. Been there, done that. Readers like to know who's talking to them even if they violently disagree. Communication with one another has gotten to be more personal and direct, through such modern channels as blogs and emails and, yes, television. As keepers of the central flame of substantive journalism, newspapers need to come back closer to their readers now, tell them who we are, and refresh their spirits with the well-written word.

Eugene Patterson is the former editor and chief executive office of The St. Petersburg Times. He won the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Email: ECP1015@aol.com
COPYRIGHT 2008 National Conference of Editorial Writers
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:SYMPOSIUM: Saving journalism and the editorial page
Author:Patterson, Eugene
Publication:The Masthead
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Mar 22, 2008
Words:422
Previous Article:The case for vibrant, engaged editorial pages.
Next Article:Personalize institutional opinions with a face: give readers/viewers some to like or dislike.
Topics:


Related Articles
Charlotte takes pride in convening community.
Grappling with future brings outpouring of angst.
Call me a purist; I prefer ethics over inclinations.
The reluctance to change: a history lesson.
I can teach any student to write opinion.
Public journalism: is it on editorial turf?
Corporate ownership affects pages.
Designing a destiny for future editorial pages: Opinion Pool to provide deep research.
Listen closely to critics and do a better job selling our value.
The case for vibrant, engaged editorial pages.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2021 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters