Welcome to my pages.
As the editorial page editor, I gather, edit, sometimes write and present what’s on Opinion and Commentary.
My 40-year career path in journalism led me here a few years ago. I’ve been a reporter in the Wildwoods, copy editor, entertainment editor, nature columnist for 25 years, business editor for almost that long, and now this.
Sometimes when I see old friends for the first time since taking on this work, they say something like, “Wow, now you’ve got the power. It must be great to have such influence over what people think.”
I get this from people on both sides of the partisan divide, each imagining how the commentaries, cartoons, letters and editorials could help their side prevail.
The job is indeed great, the most rewarding of the many I’ve had in my life, but for exactly the opposite reason that non-journalists often imagine.
The goal here is to have my views influence my work as little as possible. Every decision I make, every approach I take to an issue or problem, I try my best to base it on what I think the readers would want.
Frankly, this is not as hard for me as partisans might imagine. I’ve never cared much for politics or been aligned with a political party. I have strong interests in other things, some that better explain why people and the world are the way they are, and others that make the joy and beauty of life clearer.
Serving the readers comes naturally to newspapers, since they’re the paying customers. One challenge is that different readers want different things, which is best handled by providing as many of those different things as every day’s pages allow. In Opinion and Commentary, that means choosing commentaries and cartoons not just for their high quality and level of reader interest, but to cover a wide variety of viewpoints as well.
Just as important is that all the readers and potential readers make up the whole community that the newspaper serves. People need to feel like they have roots in a place, understand the region around them and where they fit in it, and make a difference in the life of the community. The newspaper makes this possible by constantly showing what’s around and what’s going on. Opinion and Commentary provide a managed way for them to express their views to the community and consider the views of others in the community and far beyond.
For me, a daily challenge is balancing what the individual reader wants with what the whole community of readers and potential readers wants. Past editorial page editors and I used to talk about how this is like refereeing a game that has no rules. But to the extent possible, the content is managed according to principles and policies, and the Press Editorial Board prints the most important ones at the bottom of each day’s Opinion page and a fuller set on the Opinion section of our website, pressofac.com.
We’re all working together, even if we sometimes forget, to sort out our differing and sometimes conflicting views. We want to understand better and see if we can largely agree on better ways of doing things.
I have complete faith in the people’s ability to work things out and move forward. They’ll do it because becoming more aware of and more engaged in life is fulfilling. The newspaper just provides some of the important tools and resources they need.
In future columns, I’ll talk in detail about what goes into the Voice of the People, editorials, commentaries, cartoons, Digital Voices and even the Thought for the Day. It’s a lot of challenging and rewarding work. I’ve thought a lot about how to serve the readers and I welcome their suggestions how to do better.
I began my adult working life assembling cars in a Ford factory for 58 hours a week. In the old days, we workers were the robots, our every motion and action timed to the second on an assembly line that gave us a new car to work on every minute.
That was easily the hardest physical job I’ve ever had, so it’s fitting that what’s probably my last job should require the most mental effort of any I’ve done. I can only do it because I enjoy it so.
Kevin Post is editorial page editor.