A year later, The Star Editorial Board is leading a community conversation — and expanding

The Star’s editorial board, left to right: Mary Sanchez, Dave Helling, Colleen McCain Nelson, Toriano Porter, Steve Kraske, Derek Donovan, Melinda Henneberger
The Star’s editorial board, left to right: Mary Sanchez, Dave Helling, Colleen McCain Nelson, Toriano Porter, Steve Kraske, Derek Donovan, Melinda Henneberger

One year ago, The Star’s revamped editorial board made its debut. Our aim, I said in an introductory column, was to launch a community conversation.

At least one reader took me at my word. He soon started calling me each morning, leaving multiple voicemails bright and early with his critique of that day’s opinion pages.

Some days were better than others in his estimation. His coffee klatch had thoughts as well, which he dutifully relayed.

On the rare days when my voicemail was empty when I arrived in the office, I called him — to make sure that all was well and to hear how we did that day. One year later, I appreciate all the feedback from this loyal reader and many others.

The Star’s editorial board remains committed to keeping the conversation going in Kansas City.

During the last 12 months, we’ve sought to connect with our readers online, in the newspaper and in the community. In addition to publishing editorials, columns and letters each day, the editorial board has held town hall events about local issues; we’ve broadcast weekly Facebook Live conversations with newsmakers; and we’ve accepted nearly every invitation from every civic group, Rotary Club, high school journalism class and neighborhood book club that will have us to talk about The Kansas City Star and answer questions about the editorial board.

There have been some tough crowds along the way. But it’s been a pleasure getting to know more of our readers.

A year ago, I laid out six goals for the opinion pages:

▪ Include a range of viewpoints

▪ Focus on local and state issues

▪ Make the editorial board transparent

▪ Offer fact-based analysis

▪ Be civil and constructive

▪ Deliver robust opinions

These remain our guiding tenets. We haven’t shied from controversial issues on the editorial page, and our priority has been to advocate for policies and ideas that will bolster Kansas City and the region.

The editorial board has made accountability and transparency our focus in assessing local and state elected officials, and we’ve held both Democrats and Republicans to the same standards. At a moment when our national political discourse seems to be degenerating, the editorial board is working to keep the conversation civil in our space. No name-calling. No personal attacks. Stick to the issues.

Folks of all political stripes are welcome here. Members of the editorial board argue our viewpoints each day in editorials and columns. But we’re eager to publish dissenting opinions in guest columns and letters to the editor. We welcome the debate.

The Star has made a commitment to quality opinion journalism and a strong editorial voice, and readers will see more evidence of that this year.

We continue to add talent to our team, and I’m thrilled to announce that Toriano Porter will be joining The Star’s editorial board this week. For the last two years, he’s been a go-to reporter on The Star’s breaking news desk, producing quick-hit stories, as well as more in-depth accountability journalism. He’s tackled anything the news cycle threw his way, gaining wide-ranging experience that should serve him well in his new role writing editorials and columns.

Porter started his journalism career at the North County Journal in suburban St. Louis and has worked at The Independence Examiner and The Lee’s Summit Journal. Along the way, he’s won statewide and regional awards for his reporting. He’s also the author of “The Pride of Park Avenue” and “James Cool.”

Porter joins an all-star editorial board that also includes Derek Donovan, Dave Helling, Melinda Henneberger, Steve Kraske and Mary Sanchez.

You’ll see more of the editorial board in the community this year, and we’ll continue to look for new ways to engage readers. I want to personally invite you to join the conversation. And if you want to tell me how we’re doing (maybe not every single day, but every so often would be nice), you can always find me here: cnelson@kcstar.com and 816-234-4886.