Sunday, February 05, 2023

EDITORIAL: A balancing act like no other

| August 19, 2022 1:00 AM

One would be hard-pressed to find another industry like community journalism. Every single day, we start afresh, building a new and unique product – a daily newspaper – all the while striving to make each new day’s paper a reflection of the communities we serve.

Throughout these endeavors, we aspire as journalists to a noble calling. Like our colleagues at the Society of Professional Journalists, we believe that “public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy.” We strive to provide news information that’s accurate and fair.

Sometimes we fall short in our reporting, but we correct ourselves, and we tell you when we do. We know that to build a more credible future, one must learn from the past.

Another rare aspect of our industry is the daily product testing division, better known as our readers and subscribers. This team of highly skilled individuals is trained to test for balance, alignment, and resonance. When the product fails inspection, feedback comes in like a tsunami.

We call this two-way conversation “reader engagement.”

There are days when a single commentary, column, or story will draw fire from all sides of any given perspective. Some say we are too far left. Others tell us we’re too far right. Still others complain we’re too milquetoast, that we refuse to take a side.

Whether it’s positive or negative, kudos or complaints, this feedback is the greatest gift we can ever receive.

Recently, our product testing division has been particularly vocal regarding two newer commentaries. One is penned by Brent Regan, chairman of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee. The other is by Evan Koch, chairman of the Kootenai County Democrats.

Many readers have asked why the Coeur d’Alene Press decided to offer each of these individuals a weekly column.

The answer is two-part. One, they each asked for the opportunity and agreed to abide by this newspaper’s guidelines for opinion writing. And two, because they are the elected local leaders of their respective political parties, they presumably speak for the majority of registered voters in our county.

This does not mean we agree with or endorse their opinions, and we don’t expect all readers to agree with them either.

We’ve heard from many readers who complain that their personal politics do not align with Regan’s or Koch’s. We would welcome another local, political perspective from an opinion writer who agrees to follow our guidelines and is able to meet our deadlines. Another option for those who don’t feel represented by the commentaries discussed here is to elect new party chairs who will better represent their political beliefs.

Sometimes the scale needs more than the weight on two sides to equalize. Sometimes, it takes three or even four separate weights to provide balance. In our business, balance equates to fairness, and fairness equates to accurately representing the communities we serve daily.

If you find yourself unrepresented, this is your invitation to participate in the conversation.

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