The splitting of opinion pages is problematic


The company that brings you this and most other newspapers across the country has decided to reduce the number of columns it publishes in print and online.

As one of the columnists featured in this newspaper, I have to say that I disagree with this decision. The opinions/editorial page is one of the most intriguing that writing journals provide. Viewpoints from some of the country’s best writers and interesting personalities provide readers with thought-provoking insights not readily available elsewhere. Cable news and radio stations try to fill the air with daily talk and discussion, but their opinions don’t consistently bring conversation as compelling and thought-provoking as a well-written column.

Broadcast talk shows and talk shows have become the predominant and most popular focus of radio, television and any other entity masquerading as journalism media. This opinionated image prevailing on the news in popular media is why Gannett Co. decided to trim the opinion pages of its more than 250 daily publications. Gannett Co. now publishes fewer columns on fewer days of the week and dropped some syndicated columns and unsigned editorial cartoons.

The company came to this conclusion primarily from reader surveys. Readers told the news outlet they don’t want to be told what to think and don’t believe newspapers have the expertise to tell anyone what to think about most questions. They also found that readers believe newspapers have a biased agenda.

All media companies approach their reporting with some bias in their focus and selection of each story to be published in print or online or broadcast on the air. The role of the Opinions page and the columns therein are intended to engage readers on current events and various other topics ranging from serious issues to human interest. A columnist’s opinion gives readers a deeper perspective on the day’s news or deviates from it with an interesting or humorous take on everyday life.

Gannett Co. also concluded that young readers also struggle to distinguish between news stories and opinion due to the contemporary digital environment and social media. The company based its decision to downgrade the reviews page on this response.

But a little media literacy can go a long way. As a media educator myself, one of my goals is to teach my students to be more selective and educated when choosing a news source. The digital landscape and social media have blurred the line between information and opinion and spawned many emerging media masquerading as opinion-masked journalism.

The views expressed in this column and others you may read here or in other newspapers and their websites are not necessarily those of this or other media companies. We should not read columns or editorials to find perspectives that match or fit our own, but to seek out well-written, researched opinions that provide us with perspective and insight that we may not have had. unaware or that we had not taken into account.

We can all use a little enlightenment and reflection, as we consume the news and form our own opinions from these events and issues. The Opinions page has long served as a place to read and research this perspective. Reducing the number of columns and editorials in print and online newspapers will not help distinguish fact from opinion; it only reduces the quality of the logs.

Will Buss teaches broadcasting and journalism at Western Illinois University.


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