The 316 editorials this board wrote in 2019 reflect our priorities as well as the problems and challenges facing the city and the region. Based on our analysis of last year’s editorials by subject, gun violence (22 editorials) tops the list of the city’s challenges. Criminal justice reform and the overdose crisis, with 19 editorials each, came next. Education (18) followed close behind.
Is this an accurate picture of the city, or of the expertise, interests, and biases of the group of editors and writers who make up our editorial board, and meet several times a week to discuss which topics to tackle and what to say about them?
I’d like to think the right answer is a little of both. But it’s a question we want to ask a lot more in 2020. As 2019 wound down, we asked ourselves: What haven’t we written about this year? What should we have written more about? Or less?
We know some of our readers think that we wrote too many editorials about President Trump. (And many think we wrote too few.) In fact, we wrote 13 editorials about him — roughly once a month. That’s the same frequency with which we covered the environment, housing, police, and City Hall.
The subjects we editorialize about are primarily driven by the news of the day. The city’s spike in gun violence explains our 22 editorials on that subject. We also monitor and comment on developments in areas that we care about. We do focus heavily on local issues – stories about the city, the state, and the region – because that’s where we can have the most impact.
As the year wrapped up, we’ve discussed how our editorials can have greater impact in the coming year. We will soon begin experimenting with the frequency and length of editorials – as well as how we decide what topics to cover. That last is what we’re most excited about. We’ll be creating an external board of leaders and citizens who can offer input and insight on a broad array of subjects. And we want to open more channels to hear directly from you, our readers.
Editorial boards were created to be independent of newsrooms and the news-gathering process, to reflect the institutional voice and views of news organizations. They have tended to operate behind a veil. We’re aware that this can be mysterious and opaque to our readers. That’s something that, as a public benefit corporation, we want to change.
For one thing, we think this opacity can contribute to the political and social polarization that makes important conversations difficult. We want to be more transparent with you, and inclusive of you. We want to know what subjects and issues are most important to you — whether you live in the city, the suburbs, or beyond.
What issues can we illuminate through our opinions that will help you better understand the world and the region? How can we better challenge ideas and institutions and bring about change for the better? Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Managing editor, opinion