A new way to get your dose of opinion

  • Article by: SCOTT GILLESPIE
  • Updated: August 25, 2008 - 8:46 PM

Scott Gillespie

Consider this a personal invitation to join the Editorial Board of the Star Tribune.

Beginning Monday morning, readers will have an opportunity to interact with our writers and editors in ways that we believe will reinvent our opinion journalism in print and online.

In a nutshell, we’re turning our online section into a blog. Instead of a relatively static presentation of what we publish in the daily paper, Opinion Exchange will become a frequently updated, interactive online destination. Blogging is far from cutting-edge, but we believe our approach is unique among newspaper websites.

We’ll start each weekday with a post that will summarize the discussion that takes place at our daily Editorial Board meeting and invite readers to comment on the issues we plan to write about. Those online discussions will inform — and sometimes influence — our opinions. Because opinion page readers tend to be some of the best informed online users, we’re betting the discussions will be both thoughtful and provocative. If they veer out of bounds, we’ll moderate.

Our editorials will continue to represent the institutional voice of the newspaper and will be researched and written by the Editorial Department staff. But Opinion Exchange online will give us the benefit of hearing from you while we’re doing that work — not after the fact.

In addition to traditional editorials, we’ll use the blog to post opinions as they develop throughout the day. Those will include bylined posts from our staff as well as links to other opinion material on the Web — from syndicated columns to YouTube videos, letters and the best of the opinion-leading blogs. You’ll still be able to find everything that appears in the newspaper, but what’s happening in real time will be more prominent on the site.

We’ll take the best of Opinion Exchange — including the most interesting commentary from readers — and publish it in the next day’s paper. The flow of news-­driven posts will slow on weekends, but you’ll still want to check the site for original material produced the previous week and for quick-hit opinions on major breaking news.

The idea for the blog came from Eric Ringham, our commentary editor, who worked closely with our online staff to develop the site.

"It occurred to me one night that we were doing our jobs backwards,’’ Ringham recalled. "We have two products, the Web-based one and the newsprint one. The newsprint one doesn’t change during the day, because it can’t. The Web-based one can, but it doesn’t, because we use it mainly to present a snapshot of what we were thinking and writing about yesterday. I realized we could turn that model on its head by making the Web version change throughout the day and letting the newsprint version handle the snapshot.’’

The fundamental goal of the Editorial Board is to lead the debate on the issues that matter most to Minnesota and our readers. How will Opinion Exchange help us host the discussion?

"Opinion journalism especially depends on give-and-take and timeliness,’’ Ringham said. "We need to be engaging with readers when they are interested. We shouldn’t ask that the reader to wait until Wednesday to discuss news that happened on Monday.

"If we do this right, we’ll be able to converse with readers throughout the day. It gives them the opportunity to join what has been an internal discussion, and it gives us a chance to listen to their views before we decide our own."‘

So starting Monday, go to StarTribune.com and click on the Opinion tab near the top of the home page. We hope we’ll entice you to check back throughout the day and post your own comments when the spirit moves you. No RSVP necessary: Just show up, and bring your opinions.

Scott Gillespie is at sgillespie@startribune.com.

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  • The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.

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