BY NEAL RONQUIST
Traverse City Record-Eagle
— January provided me a chance to speak with two of Traverse City’s great organizations on the topic “The Future of Newspapers.”
Early in the month I was honored to have an opportunity to speak to my fellow Rotarians at the Rotary Club of Traverse City’s meeting, and on Jan. 24 it was a humbling experiencing to fulfill an invite to kick off the Economic Club of Traverse City’s 2014 slate of speakers.
I always welcome the opportunity to talk about the industry I have chosen as my career and to share the passion I - as well as the hard-working, dedicated Record-Eagle employees - have for the important work we do.
It’s also encouraging to hear of the passion our readers have for our newspaper. No matter the place, readers everywhere take ownership of their hometown newspaper. The newspaper may induce a wide-range of emotions, and that’s a good thing; it shows our readers care.
One particular newspaper section generally generates the most passion and emotion among readers, a section about which I field the most questions when I speak to groups. That is, of course, our Opinion section.
The Opinion section is the most misunderstood page in the newspaper.
Opinion pages have a number of different components. The two-page section is comprised of an editorial cartoon, which typically comes from a nationally syndicated cartoonist; Our View, which is the newspaper’s editorial and represents the collective voice of the newspaper; Your Views, which are reader-submitted letters to the editor; Forums, which are opportunities for readers to share their opinion on a subject in more depth than a letter to the editor; and Op-Eds, which typically are columnists who are nationally or state syndicated and represent a mix of both conservative and liberal viewpoints.
When it comes to the Record-Eagle’s editorial — Our View — we’re always going to do just that: espouse our view, particularly on local matters. Positions we take will be based on principles of being a proactive leader in this community and our strong desire to make this great place an even better place to work and live.
We always will fight for and demand truth and transparency among public bodies and we will offer solutions and not just cast stones. We’re neither pro-Republican, nor pro-Democrat. We’re pro-Traverse City and the Grand Traverse region, but not necessarily pro-status quo.
Our readers, and non-readers, are welcome to agree or disagree with Our View. The Record-Eagle’s view is an opinion. We offer our opinion to initiate community conversation, to elicit other opinions and to educate. And the only place you will find our opinion is on the opinion page. The news stories written by our reporters are based on facts gathered from public documents and comments and statements garnered through interviews of subjects pertinent to the respective stories.
Today more than ever it seems people are highly protective of the right to form and defend their own opinions, but they frequently have little respect for those who may hold differing opinions. Having and voicing differing opinions is part of what makes this country great. It doesn’t make someone good, or bad, right, or wrong.
Having a difference of opinion shouldn’t elicit anger, or hate, it should provide an opportunity for healthy, civil discourse and an opportunity to learn and engage.
We encourage our readers and community members to engage on our opinion section by sending letters to the editors. Let’s have a civilized, healthy debate on subjects that matter most to our community, without vile hate and anger that simply has no place in legitimate public discourse.
Neal Ronquist is Record-Eagle publisher.