The Star Tribune Editorial Board is committed to hosting a civil and informed debate on the issues that matter most to the Star Tribune’s readers.
One of the ways we get the conversation started is to provide our own views in the form of editorials, which represent the institutional view of the Star Tribune.
Editorial Board members offer their ideas at regular staff meetings. Some of those ideas come in response to news coverage, while others may come from sources they’ve developed in their areas of expertise or from one of the many meetings the board holds with community leaders, politicians, government officials and citizens’ groups.
Board members discuss whether topics are worthy, how the editorial might be argued and what reporting will be needed to develop an informed opinion. There’s sometimes disagreement about the direction an editorial should take, and in those cases, the editorial page editor makes the call.
In most cases, the board will reach a consensus on the opinion, and a board member is assigned to do additional reporting and writing.
Editorials do not have a byline or credit line because the author writes on behalf of the board and may or may not agree in full with the opinion expressed.
At election time, the Editorial Board makes endorsements in key races, but only after examining the credentials and conducting an interview with each candidate.
The Editorial Board operates independently from the newsroom, meaning that news reporters and editors are not involved in determining the board’s positions. For example, newsroom staff members learn about the board’s political endorsements at the same time readers do — when they’re published.
The best editorials make a difference in the community by provoking a healthy debate and by influencing public affairs in ways the Editorial Board believes will benefit Minnesotans today and in the future. It’s a responsibility we take seriously, knowing that ultimately our readers will determine if our opinions are valuable.
The Star Tribune publishes roughly six to eight letters to the editor under the “Readers Write” banner each day. These are selected from among the several dozen (and sometimes hundreds) we receive, depending on what’s in the news. It’s important to note that letters are distinct from the voluminous comments appended to articles online — those are moderated by a separate team not connected with the Opinion Exchange section.
In making selections for Readers Write, we have three main goals: to add insight to public discussions; to reflect the balance of what readers are saying, in the proportion they’re saying it, and to offer compilations that are engaging, even entertaining, to read. These goals, you might guess, are sometimes at odds.
A letter stands a better chance of publication if it adheres to the length guidelines of 250 words at most (the shorter the letters, the more we can publish). It’s helpful if a letter addresses a timely topic or a perennial issue from a fresh perspective. The arc of discussion on a given topic can extend across many days.
You can send letters by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can click on the “Submit a letter or commentary” link at startribune.com/opinion. Letters sent by post are also considered but can be at a disadvantage in terms of immediacy. They should be mailed to Letters to the Editor, Star Tribune Building, 650 3rd Avenue South, Suite 1300, Minneapolis, MN., 55488.
Make sure you include your name and city of residence, along with various ways we can contact you, if needed, with questions while on deadline. It’s also helpful to include links or clear references to material you’re citing. Letters taking issue with the Star Tribune’s reporting will be given due deliberation, although specific examples of errors are best directed to email@example.com.
If we publish your letter, we’ll print your name and city as attribution. Anonymous letters are not accepted. Occupational information is sometimes included if it’s relevant to the topic.
The volume of letters we receive makes it impracticable for us to provide status updates. In general, if a letter is going to be published, it will appear within a few days of being submitted. But letters can remain under consideration for up to a week. Letters submitted in response to articles in the Sunday paper are typically considered for publication the following Sunday so that they may be seen by a similar audience.
We may edit your letter for purposes of style, clarity and concision, adding context if necessary or subtracting it if the letter is appearing with others on the same subject.
Our commentary offerings include a mix of local and national writers. Here is where you will find syndicated national columnists from newspapers like the Washington Post and New York Times. Star Tribune Editorial staff members John Rash and D.J. Tice write weekly columns, and retired staff member Lori Sturdevant offers a monthly column. We also offer occasional fact-checking reports from PolitiFact.com, and we feature local writers, including public officials, experts and newsmakers and thoughtful readers with something to say. Our goal is to air diverse and engaging points of view on the day’s most important and interesting issues.
What makes a good commentary? 10 guiding questions
- Is the topic relevant to readers?
- Is the topic timely?
- Will your commentary add a fresh perspective or merely rehash what has already been said?
- Do you have expertise in the topic area? (This adds credibility, but it’s not mandatory; experts don't have a monopoly on insight.)
- Is the writing clear and efficient and within our word limitation? (There's only so much editing we can reasonably do.
- Is the commentary engaging?
- Does the submission offer a clear point of view? Is it plausible?
- Is the argument being presented logically sound in its construction and conclusions?
- Does the commentary avoid hyperbole and fallacies? (No exaggerations, no red herrings, no ad hominem attacks.)
- If outside material or data is being presented, is it appropriately sourced? Do any numbers cited add up correctly?
To submit a commentary
We welcome commentaries from readers. Submissions should be no more than 700 words. They must be exclusive to the Star Tribune. All must include the author’s real, legal name. Rebuttals to other articles become the property of the Star Tribune and may be republished in any format.
To submit a commentary online, go to tinyurl.com/submit-commentary
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Steve Sack has entertained, informed and provoked Star Tribune opinion section readers since 1981.
Sack’s style is unique and his point of view is clear. He can be laugh-out-loud funny one day and sadly reflective the next. Steve typically does five cartoons a week, and his year-end "Best of Sack" remains one of our most popular annual features.
On days when Sack does not appear, the Star Tribune chooses works from a variety of nationally syndicated cartoonists.
Sack is, first and foremost, a journalist, and he takes his craft seriously. He reads and watches the news with the eye of a reporter, and his cartoons reflect his thorough understanding of complex people and issues. Even those who disagree with Sack’s take often admit to being loyal followers.
"I wish I understood the process better. Or maybe it's good that I don't," Sack once said of his work. "In my crazy way, this is my form of art. Basically, I draw these for myself. They have to interest me, an expression of how I look at the world, either how it is and how I don't like it, or how it is and how I want to change it."
Sack was born in St. Paul and attended the University of Minnesota, where he started doing editorial cartoons for the school paper. He spent three years at the Journal Gazette in Indiana before being hired by the Star Tribune.
His many national honors include winning the 2013 Pulitzer in editorial cartooning, and being a Pulitzer finalist in 2004 and again in 2016. Others include a Sigma Delta Chi Award (2003), National Headliner Award (2003), Scripps-National Journalism Award (2004) and the Berryman Award from the National Press Foundation (2006.)
Get the latest links to commentary and Pulitzer Prize-winner Steve Sack’s political cartoons by following @StribOpinion on Twitter. Or, you can like Star Tribune Opinion on Facebook at www.facebook/StribOpinion. Editorial board members on Twitter include:
Also look for StribOpinion on Instagram and Pinterest.
Listen to our weekly Playing Politics podcast, produced in collaboration with WCCO Radio, for in-depth analysis of public affairs in Minnesota. Co-hosts Chad Hartman from WCCO and John Rash from the Star Tribune are joined by members of the Star Tribune Editorial Board in a timely, opinionated discussion of the political news of the week. You’ll find current and archived podcasts at startribune.com/playingpolitics, and you can subscribe through iTunes and Google Play.