Friday, May 17, 2019

Editor of daily bought by GateHouse, suffering cuts in staff, reduces editorials to one per month; what do you think?

Should newspaper editorial pages go the way of Xacto knives and wax? Jeremy McBain, executive editor of the Petoskey News-Review in northern Michigan, wrestled with the question and decided that the daily, bought in February by GateHouse Media, needed to cut way back on its editorials.

Jeremy McBain
"Our staff has been cut. Reporters and editors have more duties on their plates. I have to start looking at areas to cut. Areas that will have the least impact on readers," McBain wrote May 17.

"We will not be cutting the columnists, the letters to the editor or the kudos on the opinion page. Those will remain. What you will see are fewer editorials. We are going to write only one of these a month, starting this month. However, we reserve the option to write more if a rare situation calls for it. It is hoped this will give the reporters on the editorial board more time each week to focus on our priority — unbiased, factual, news stories. And it is hoped this will give our editors more time to work with reporters on improving stories."

McBain concluded, "Let’s face it, you don’t read this newspaper to learn what our opinion on a community issue is on the opinion page. You read this newspaper to find out what is going on, how it impacts you and what you can about it. That is our priority. That is what we do best."

Earlier in his piece, McBain said of opinion pages, "Are they really needed anymore? In today’s digital media world, you can find and you can express opinion in thousands of different places. . . . But, where can you go to get solid facts today? Where can you get information that is not spun to get you to believe someone’s viewpoint? That seems to be getting harder and harder today when it comes to the digital world or television." McBain said his surveys in the past had shown that older readers said the opinion page was still valuable. Younger readers saw no use for it."

Readers of The Rural Blog are invited to comment on this item.

1 comment:

David Bordewyk said...

I think it is a terrible mistake newspapers make by reducing or eliminating editorial pages. I would argue newspapers should be doing just the opposite and look to build up their opinion pages as best they can. It's something that can set them apart from other mediums. Robust editorial pages can build a newspaper's relevancy and community connections at a time when that's exactly what the newspaper industry is finding most challenging. To be sure, citizens can spout off and express ideas anywhere, anytime and anyhow today, but a good, lively editorial page welcoming of ideas and civil discourse that is focused on what matters to the community served by that newspaper is a necessary ingredient for survival, I believe.