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Editorial: A look behind the scenes

Publisher column

The Dalles Chronicle recently launched its editorial board for 2016, selecting five community members to join management staff in the endorsement process.

It is my philosophy that a newspaper should be a positive force to inform and educate readers on issues that are relevant to the community as a whole.

Our editorial board functions and, ultimately, formulates a preference of endorsement by educated conversation and substance that is not taken lightly.

During my travels as a newspaper publisher, I have always preferred to have a few engaged community members at the table alongside reporters to formulate a more dynamic opinion.

As I have said in the past, my staff and I may work at the Chronicle daily, but we are just stewards of the newspaper today, this publication really belongs to you and your neighbors yesterday, today and into the future.

The eight members of the Chronicle board are evenly divided ideologically and expected to do their homework so they show up ready to engage in a lively discussion that was described this week by one of our new members “clean, efficient and fair.”

The board’s primary task during an election year is to objectively vet and converse about the pros and cons of political candidates and ballot measures.

Understanding and capturing the diverse flavor of our community and advocating for good local government and policies are things we do objectively and honestly.

As publisher, I reserve the right to determine the editorial position of your newspaper, but I have never gone against the consensus of my managing editor and editorial board in the endorsement of political candidates or ballot measures.

It’s my belief that having invested and engaged community members alongside reporters gives a rounded representation and provides valuable insight on relevant issues within a community.

Newspaper endorsements have become as much a part of the American political process since the 1800s as the stump speeches delivered by politicians. For example, in August 1862, during the Civil War, Horace Greeley, abolitionist editor of The New York Times, published an open letter chastising President Abraham Lincoln for not having sufficient zeal for emancipation.

American newspaper editors and publishers have long seen it as their duty to inform the public about stances taken by candidates and foster debate of important issues.

Endorsements of state and federal offices generally are viewed by editorial boards as a declaration of the newspaper’s identity and its willingness to be part of the community.

However, at the local level, an endorsement can make a difference in how votes are cast. That carries a big responsibility that is taken very seriously by myself and RaeLynn Ricarte, managing editor.

Next Thursday, April 21, we will introduce readers to the members of our new board on this page. The group took several hours out of busy schedules Tuesday and Wednesday to meet with both candidates for the Wasco County Commission, incumbent Steve Kramer and his challenger Rodger Nichols.

Our endorsement choice has been made and will be published Sunday, April 24, along with the reasoning for our decision. You may not agree and are welcome to express that dissent in a letter to the editor.

— Frank Perea II


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