Our Editorial and Op-Ed pages have changed over the last few weeks.
We’ve added two conservative cartoonists and another conservative national columnist. We are more consistently pairing columnists with divergent views on a single topic. And we are publishing more reader feedback.
These and other changes are responses to our recent reader survey. The Star’s editor, Bobbie Jo Buel, wrote a column last month detailing what you told us about your interests and satisfaction with news coverage. Today it is my turn to write about the editorial pages.
Many of you complained that we are too liberal, and you asked for a more balanced mix of politically diverse voices. In particular, readers pointed out that no conservative cartoonist was part of our regular rotation.
We’ve added cartoons three times a week by Lisa Benson and Glenn McCoy, nationally syndicated cartoonists with decidedly conservative bents. Already we are hearing complaints about them, which isn’t surprising. Cartoons have a long tradition as the most controversial content in newspapers.
Our aim has always been to publish writers with different political views on the Op-Ed pages, and we will continue to be vigilant about our mix. While some days will find a more neutral, explanatory piece, generally readers will see such duos as Ruth Marcus and Kathleen Parker (Wednesdays), Leonard Pitts Jr. or Esther Cepeda and George Will (Thursdays and Sundays), Charles Krauthammer and a writer from our wire services (Fridays), and Jonah Goldberg and Eugene Robinson (Saturdays). Of course, vacations, breaking news and special assignments mean the schedule isn’t set in stone.
Michael Gerson will regularly join the mix. He has worked for national Republican office holders, including Bob Dole, Jack Kemp and George W. Bush, for whom he served “from 1999 until 2006 and became the voice of ‘compassionate conservatism’ within the White House,” according to the Washington Post description. Additionally, he is the Hastert Fellow at the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy at Wheaton College in Illinois.
Another change we have made is in the presentation of the “pro/con” columns. We regularly publish pieces from McClatchy Tribune Newspapers on Mondays; these have been expanded and the layout better signals that “these are opposing opinions.”
We’re doing the same with our Op-Ed writers. A recent example: the side-by-side opinions of Ruth Marcus and Kathleen Parker on the Supreme Court’s hearing of the freedom of religion case concerning Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. Whenever possible, we’re running two local guest opinions on the same topic, as evidenced by pieces by Robin Gomez and Mayor Jonathan Rothschild on possible changes in the mission at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.
Additionally, we’re publishing Facebook comments on the most talked-about stories a couple of times a week. Because we focus on one or two topics, you’ll quickly get a taste of disparate views. When the subject is particularly controversial, we’ve added an online poll to quickly gauge community sentiment on such issues as payouts for unused sick time for Tucson public-safety employees.
The changes we’re making reflect a more balanced mix of politically diverse voices. At the same time we remain committed to evaluating issues of broad interest to Southern Arizonans and providing strong positions on government actions, political races, poverty, child welfare, immigration and the economic future of our region.