The 152 comments, 5,238 people reached and numerous angry faces let us know that we had a problem. A column by Nicholas Kristof, who took issue with how President Trump is responding to the recent coronavirus pandemic, had drawn a lot of attention on social media. First of all, let us just say we are sorry for not making it clear that it was an opinion piece. Second of all, part of our responsibility as a news organization is to explain why we do what we do. This is the first in a series of editorials aimed to do just that.
On our viewpoints page (4A) we strive to present opinions from a variety of sources. Approximately, 60 percent of our column writers are conservative. We run columns from liberal writers, too, since about 40 percent of our readers tend to vote Democrat.
One thing that we have learned over the years, is that both sides will complain about what is in the paper. If both sides are complaining/commenting, then we know we have done our job.
Another question may be if we know the majority of our readers are conservative why don’t we run all conservative columnists? Here at the News Messenger, we believe in provoking thoughts, education and we aim for about a 60 percent conservative/40 percent liberal split on columnists. Our conservative columnists include Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin, George Will, who runs twice a week and Byron York. Locally, the conservative viewpoint is led by Jerry Hopkins, who runs on Thursday. On the left, we have Nicolas Kristof and Bret Stephens. Also provided is a daily Bible verse and the thoughts for the day.
Ross Ramsey writes for Texas politics and Ed Sterling who writes capital highlights, an always up-to-date Texas happening on the state level.
From a local standpoint our focus is and always will be local news coverage. That is our strong suit and what our local readers want – the local coverage of city hall, county government, schools and sports. Some of our local columnists that run in the paper that provide information about happenings and events are John Moore, Jack Dillard, Matt Garrett, Seth Buckner, Sam Smith and Louraiseal McDonald who offer important local information for our readers.
Buckner and Smith are our religion columnists. They go on the religion pages either on Wednesday or Saturday.
Moore adds humor each week and is printed on page 5A. McDonald, Garrett and Dillard all provide information about agriculture, but it is written from their points of view. We also print a daily political cartoon just because they are funny. Once again, we try to alternate between conservative and liberal points of view.
One thing that is disheartening in today’s world is how quickly fights begin on Facebook. The state of the world today drives some of this thinking. We can’t we have a civil discussion without calling each other names and making caustic comments. Viewpoints are great, but let’s have a civic discussion. We miss the days when you could respectively disagree and still be friends.
As part of the opinion page, you can write a Letter to the Editor. We like letters! Please feel free to send some our way. We do not accept anonymous letters and nor letters that endorse or oppose specific candidates. Issues of the day are excellent letters and have great value to us and our readers.
Two other features on our opinion page that may be confusing are called ‘Another View’ and ‘Our View.’ Another View is an editorial picked up from another newspaper written by that publication’s editorial board. We try to stay Texas specific if possible.
Our View are editorials written from our editorial board’s point of view and include the opinions of those individuals. This board does not include any of our reporters who work diligently covering the local news of the community.
Most importantly, we heard your voices.
As a result of this feedback, The Marshall News Messenger will no longer be sharing non-local columnists on our social media pages. While it’s easily identifiable because of its location and header in the print edition, it is difficult on social media to make sure people understand these are opinions featured on the opinion page.
If our readers have any questions, they can feel free to email or call. Our general email is firstname.lastname@example.org and 903-935-7914.