Opinion

Colleen McCain Nelson: Opinion pages should stimulate public debate

Colleen McCain Nelson, vice president and editorial page editor.
Colleen McCain Nelson, vice president and editorial page editor. tljungblad@kcstar.com

On my first day at The Kansas City Star, before I’d even unpacked a box or located the newsroom coffeemaker, readers had questions for me.

When will we see editorials in the paper again? Why don’t the opinion pages reflect my views? Where’s the local content?

Their tough critiques underscored the fact that Star readers hold their opinion pages to a high standard. I do, too.

I spent the last five years at The Wall Street Journal, writing about the Obama White House and the last two presidential campaigns. It was one of the best jobs in journalism.

But I missed writing for a newspaper that was an essential part of a community and connecting with readers who care deeply about their hometown paper.

The chance to serve as The Star’s editorial page editor was an opportunity to return to my home turf and launch a community conversation on the opinion pages. As it turns out, this is my dream job.

These pages are a unique forum to debate public policy and issues that affect readers’ lives. I want to invite you to join that discussion.

The Star is redoubling its efforts to take a leading role in civil public discourse and to deliver unique, impactful opinion content.

To accomplish that, we’ve assembled an all-star editorial board of trusted and experienced journalists.

Today marks the return of staff-written editorials to our pages. Readers will see some other changes during the coming weeks.

Here’s what you can expect to find on The Star’s opinion pages:

A range of viewpoints

This space won’t be an echo chamber where everyone agrees with one another. Members of the editorial board all have their own perspectives on politics and policy.

We will advocate for ideas and proposals that we believe bolster Kansas City and the region. But we’ll also give others with divergent views a chance to have their say.

When the city is wrestling with an important public-policy question — such as whether to build a new airport or pass a major bond proposal — we’ll ask leaders from opposing sides to make their best arguments on our pages.

A focus on local and state issues

More staff-written columns and op-eds from members of the community will appear on the opinion pages. We will continue to publish some syndicated columnists. But I want to shine a spotlight on issues that hit home for our readers.

Transparency

We’ll pull back the curtain and show you how the editorial board works. We plan to post videos from our meetings with newsmakers. And editorial board members will debate issues on our blog and in their own columns.

Fact-based analysis

Effective opinion writing depends on strong reporting. Editorial board members will blend their analytical and reporting skills to deliver considered opinions backed up by facts.

Constructive criticism

Name-calling and perpetual outrage seldom yield progress. Our tone will be civil, and we will endeavor to suggest workable solutions.

Robust opinions

You still will find strong opinions on the editorial page. We will not shy from weighing in on controversial questions.

You won’t agree with everything you read here. That’s not our objective.

But you’ll see people from across the political spectrum on the opinion pages.

Our intent is to deliver smart, insightful commentary that challenges readers to consider other points of view. We aim to be less predictable, and on a good day, we may pleasantly surprise you.

If we’re not living up to these goals — or if you just want to offer your thoughts about the opinion pages — you can find me at cnelson@kcstar.com or 816-234-4886.

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