A core newspaper value: The strong voice of the editorial page

Yesterday, Andria Krewson and I had a good email exchange about Amendment One, newspapers, editorial pages and the influence of written opinion. She writes about her findings this afternoon in CJR. As usual, Andria does an excellent job researching and analyzing N.C. journalism. (Full disclosure: she quotes me.)

Among the things I told her was my fear that newspapers, including editorial pages, were quickly losing their influence and impact (which I wrote about here and here). I have no research on how a town’s newspaper editorial position correlates with the area’s vote on Amendment One. It would be an interesting study for some journalism student.

Editorial pages are a destination in newspapers. Strong, fist-pounding opinions are a must. (What is there to lose?) So is using every tool at their disposal to engage the community. (Video, anyone?) I know how hard it is when you don’t have enough people or technology. Times of desperation — that’s where we are, isn’t it? — require focusing on your fundamental values. Strong community leadership provided by the voice of the editorial page should be a fundamental value of every newspaper. That means, provide appropriate resources to make it a treasured, nourishing destination.

Filling the investigative gap

Last week, I wrote about the high cost of journalism and acknowledged that I let the News & Record’s investigative effort slide so that we could have broader coverage of more traditional news.

Andria Krewson writes about non-traditional news organizations in N.C. filling the gap, in many cases ably, in others, well, less so.

Some sources are relatively new, part of a crop of independent, nonprofit news outlets sprouting in many states. Others are long established, serving policy-oriented parent organizations that have a clear political ideology, even if they are technically nonpartisan.

Whatever their pedigree, the nonprofits are sometimes hard to find for readers outside of political wonk circles. But as a group, they’re providing more information about politics and the money behind it, particularly for state elections and issues—an area where the number of newspaper reporters has sharply declined both in North Carolina and across the country.

Because it’s Andria, it’s filled with links and detail. Give it a read, bookmark the links and I guarantee you’ll be a smarter political citizen.