We’re trying to get more voices on our editorial page other than the usual letter writers. We also find it challenging to write local editorials. Any suggestions?
Point/counterpoint commentaries are an excellent starting point to address both of your concerns – and to supplement your newsroom resources. Make it a point at staff meetings, or as part of a regular review, to identify key issues being debated in your communities. Such things as school referendums, a controversial commercial development or a contentious feedlot permit are ready-made topics.
In addition, think of the numerous other issues that are commonplace in many communities and ripe for debate – proposals for all-day kindergarten, skateboard parks, teen centers, special taxing districts, business subsidies, land annexations, riverfront developments, highway bypasses. Newsrooms often are pressed to fully report on these issues. So why not regularly solicit pro/con viewpoints. Publish these with the individuals’ mug shots, and use a photo or a graphic to illustrate and enhance the layout. These can take time to put together, so start slowly – maybe once every three months.
These exchanges will likely prompt others to weigh in on the issue and also might prompt the newspaper to take an editorial stance. Above all, you’re using the newspaper to enrich community discussion on important topics.