An invitation to help balance our column lineup
Today, I want to praise our columnists, most of whom are contributors from the community — and I want to invite more of you to join the opinion page lineup.
First, our columnists contribute much more than just to the opinion page. Alison Osius, who writes about her life experiences in the monthly Femaelstrom, is a graceful, polished writer. We are lucky to have her contributing.
I also enjoy the writing of Marilyn Gleason, if not her topics — she just wrote about roadkill in her Eating Local column.
Laurie Raymond, who writes about our relationships with pets in her monthly Sextiped Valley column, also is another fine local writer. Coloradans love their animals, and between Laurie and Ronald Carsten, a Glenwood Springs veterinarian who is vice president of the State Board of Veterinary Medicine, I feel like we provide good information and discussion points.
Our Tuesday Body & More lineup is robust, including a weekly health tip from Dr. Greg Feinsinger, who retired last year from Glenwood Medical Associates and is gaining a broad audience, including online readers around the country. We also have fitness trainers, simplification evangelist Evan Zislis and writers about healthy aging for Body & More.
Our Monday business content is blessed with rotating columns from Danielle Howard, whose approach to personal finance is as much about attitude as investments; and banking veteran Pat Dalrymple.
We have other regular community columnists writing about fly fishing, history, immigrants, local eating and more.
By singling out some of our contributors, I don’t want those not named to feel slighted. We love you all. You enrich the offerings of a small newspaper.
But it’s time to shift to an opinion page discussion.
It’s a fact that we lean left. Hey, it’s an opinion page. But I do want to offer a balanced discussion.
The publisher, Mike Bennett, who is dropping from a weekly column to monthly, doesn’t always write about political topics, but tends to be liberal, as do I.
Our editorial positions, which are separate from our columns, are decided by Mike and me, and are a bit more centrist — in the most recent county commission and Glenwood Springs City Council races, we endorsed only Republicans, for example.
Among our other regular opinion page columnists, Mary Boland, Hal Sundin and Randy Fricke fall well on the left side of the political spectrum. Former Arts and Entertainment Editor Jessica Cabe, who will be filling the spot formerly taken by Carbondale Trustee Allyn Harvey, also is liberal. Lindsey DeFrates, a Carbondale teacher who hasn’t been especially political in the early months of her column, seems to fall on the progressive side of the ledger as well.
On the conservative side of the opinion page lineup are James Kellogg and Glenn K. Beaton, both of whom make reliably sound arguments.
I’m being transparent here, and if you are keeping score, that makes it 7-2 for the left. That’s clearly not ideal and hasn’t been by design. People propose columns, and if they write well, I’m eager to have local voices on the opinion page.
I’ve run several guest opinions lately from the conservative Independence Institute and other right-leaning authors. I prefer local voices or people who are writing about Colorado and Western issues versus national syndicated columns, but when we do run syndicated columns, the conservative Charles Krauthammer and right-leaning moderate Kathleen Parker are at the front of the line.
That’s not good enough.
To help balance us out locally, I’m inviting area residents who lean or sit squarely on the right side of the political spectrum to submit writing samples to become regular opinion page columnists.
This is risky because I might turn some of you down, which might make those people angry and convince them that I don’t really want more conservative columnists. But I do.
I’ll apply my experience as an editor to assess writing skills, clarity, the ability to make a reasoned argument and a willingness to avoid demonstrably false assertions.
It’s OK to state opinions with passion. It’s OK to tear into Democrats or to explain why you think Donald Trump should be president.
I’ll tell you up front that we won’t run columns asserting that Barack Obama is not a citizen or that he is a Muslim or that Hillary Clinton ordered troops not to swoop into Benghazi and stop the attack on the American mission there. We won’t go there because those things aren’t true by any reliable source.
But if you want to make a case that Clinton’s private email server was an example of arrogance that risked a grave breech of security, or that Obama has worsened our country’s division because he lacked interest or political skills needed to work with Congress, you would be well within bounds. Kellogg, whom I think is underappreciated by our readership as a pretty good columnist, has made a case that his executive orders are lawless and vain. All fine.
An opinion page is supposed to be the forum for a vigorous discussion. I very much enjoy editing our columns and letters from all sides of the spectrum.
So if you would like to write a monthly column for us, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll look at your material. If it’s clear and well-reasoned, I’ll ask to meet with you and we’ll go from there.
In this instance, though, no liberals need apply.
Randy Essex is editor of the Post Independent.
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