The Opinion section is generally outside the sphere of what I'm here to address as The Star's public editor. As I've said and written often, there's no such thing as a "fair" opinion -- though of course columnists, cartoonists and letter writers still need to stick to concrete facts in conveying those opinions.
An emailer wrote me Saturday to object to that day's cartoon by Jim Morin of the Miami Herald. And while I'm always happy to pass along these types of subjective comments, another part of the reader's email brought up a mistaken impression that I'm sure others share:
"What is the Star's standard for publishing such a cartoon on its editorial page rather than the op-ed page and therefore giving the Star's implicit endorsement to the cartoon's content?" he asked.
That one's easy: There's no endorsement from the editorial board implied by any item's being placed on that page. Morin comes to most issues from the political left, while today's page has a cartoon from the conservative Glenn McCoy. Star cartoonist Lee Judge generally runs on that page, as do the letters to the editor -- which obviously represent a wide variety of opinions, many of which directly oppose the editorial board's stances on issues.
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I've long understood those readers who don't get the whole concept of the unsigned editorial, which represents the consensus view of the editorial board, and therefore the institutional voice of The Star. But that's meant to remain confined to the Opinion section, and I can tell you with much firsthand knowledge that the members of the editorial board play no role in the news gathering process. Most editors and reporters read their editorials when they post them on KansasCity.com -- at the same time readers outside the newsroom see them.
I don't think editorial boards can possibly explain that arrangement too often, because many readers have similar misunderstandings about how they work.