Change comes swiftly to the craft of news reporting and commentary. Just two years ago, I was a everyday beat reporter with a focus on Arizona’s congressional delegation and federal issues — but prepared to chase just about any good story that I thought East Valley readers would care about.
Suddenly, I was elevated to the role of opinion writer; perhaps not as prestigious as such positions once were but certainly a precious opportunity to approach the news from a different perspective.
Opinion writers are that rare breed of professional journalist who have the freedom to express their own views and to participate in the public debate on issues of the day — rather than simply observe and report.
With the new Tribune that launches this week, I have moved up to challenge of editing these opinion pages on-line and in print. I have 24 months of experience in writing editorials found in the “Our View” section, of organizing the Vent, and of proofreading guest columns and letters to the editor.
From now on, I also will be responsible for selecting what opinions and viewpoints will be displayed under the Tribune banner. Working with Publisher Julie Moreno and Tribune Editor Chris Coppola, I will strive to carry forward a newspaper tradition that dates back about 350 years.
The fact that you are reading this column suggests you have at least a casual interest in what goes on with the opinion pages.
It also suggests that you are a more discerning reader.
The Internet makes it possible for anyone to shout out just about anything if they are willing to spend 10 minutes clacking away on a keyboard. People come to opinion pages these days because they are looking for a space that filters out all of the noise and confusion and lifts up fact-based, compelling commentary to digest and to reflect upon. You expect that we will use our direct contact with newsmakers, our experience in covering issues and our best judgment to bring you a concise, thoughtful discussion.
You are going to see fewer changes on the opinion pages than elsewhere in the new editions of the Tribune. We as an editorial voice remain committed to the libertarian views of R.C. Hoiles, the founder of our parent company, Freedom Communications.
We will continue to express our support for smaller governments that take less of our tax dollars and have limited powers, and we will provide more opportunities for libertarian-oriented writers and thinkers who struggle to gain attention from most of the “mainstream media.”
But I have always believed that a newspaper’s editorial positions were not the final word on any issue. Instead, I see editorials and columns as one place to start a conversation, to call your attention to a concern that you might not have heard about yet, or perhaps to help you start thinking a little differently about a familiar topic.
For the opinion pages to be a effective forum — and to be ethical journalists — we must recognize when there are differing but valid points of view. We have to acknowledge when the facts don’t support our pre-conceived philosophy.
And we have to admit in a forthright manner when we make the occasional mistake.
Opinion page readers also come here because you want to know what your neighbors are thinking and writing about. To that end, we are working to include as many letters to the editor and submitted guest columns as possible. Unfortunately, that means we had to say goodbye to the cartoon “Prickly City.” We also will need to take full advantage of the additional space available at www.eastvalleytribune.com to make this possible.
Thank you for joining us on this new adventure for the Tribune and the communities that it serves. We will never forget that we are doing this to serve you as readers and as citizens of this great state and country.