Editorial Board changes make sense

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, October 31, 2009

Always pushing government for more transparency in its actions, it is important The Tribune strives to practice what it preaches.

I’m a strong supporter of open discussion at every level of government and life. Now is a good time to open that conversation about a key function of any respectable newspaper: Endorsements.

This is something this newspaper did not do for many years but that we resumed doing in key races about six years ago. Although they are not always popular, I strongly support endorsements because a local newspaper has a responsibility to weigh in, when possible, on issues that affect the community.

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Some may be looking at today’s Opinion page for endorsements of Ironton City Council, but you won’t find them.

The Tribune won’t endorse any candidates this year but not because they aren’t deserving or not because we don’t feel it is important.

No, this year, I chose not to endorse because it didn’t seem fair to candidates that they would have to meet with the Editorial Board that consisted of … just me.

It is one thing for one person to take a stand on ballot issues or things going on in the community and it is another to try to weigh in on individuals and their particular viewpoints.

Since some staffing changes earlier this year, the board has just been me, something that I didn’t like but I wanted to fully consider alternatives before making any changes.

Those changes begin today.

The Tribune Editorial Board will now consist of myself, production manager Bo Elliott, home delivery manager Josh Morrison and advertising director Shawn Randolph.

This is the leadership team here at the newspaper and it makes sense that they would have a role in this important aspect.

Each one of these individuals are Lawrence Countians who have ties to all our communities. They are your friends and neighbors.

I wanted to give this board time to develop before weighing in on candidates.

Will each board member always agree with every editorial stance? Of course not, but we will work to come to a consensus.

So next election The Tribune will resume endorsing in key races.

Another component that came from this process is the creation of a citizen’s advisory panel. The Tribune will be forming a loose-knit group of concerned citizens who will periodically help us take the pulse of the community.

We will invite individuals we feel are engaged in what is going on in our communities and who we think can represent Lawrence County.

Anyone who would be interested in this can contact me for consideration.

This group won’t have any direct control over the newspaper but we will value its opinions and input.

More to come on this in upcoming weeks.

The only loose end is weighing in on Ironton City Council, the only race The Tribune would have typically endorsed this year because the logistics of trying to meet with all the candidates in all the races.

Although I didn’t meet with the Ironton candidates specifically for endorsements, I can say that I know five of the six candidates fairly well. The sixth seems to be in it for the right reasons as well.

Ultimately, if they live up to their potential and listen to the citizens of Ironton, I think each could blend their strengths and weaknesses to be good leaders for the citizens.

That’s not an endorsement by the newspaper, simply one person’s opinion.

And thanks to the changes to the Editorial Board, future endorsements will be more than just that sole viewpoint.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.