Newspapers love to note when bloggers are anonymous. In return, bloggers love to note that newspaper editorials (as opposed to op-eds) are likewise anonymous. Yesterday the Knoxville News-Sentinel editor addressed that topic on his blog.
Jack McElroy – Editorials aren’t really anonymous:
Actually, the News Sentinel’s editorials aren’t anonymous. The names of the people responsible for them are published every day at the top of the Editorial Page: Publisher Patrick Birmingham, Editor Jack McElroy and Editorial Page Editor Scott Barker. The three of us meet twice a week as the editorial board of the newspaper and decide on the positions we want to take in editorials.
Collective authorship by the hive mind implies that there’s no individual responsibility. If your names are up there at the top of the editorial page, why not put them on the editorial itself? You might as well put “staff” on the bylines of all your news stories.
The three of us meet twice a week as the editorial board of the newspaper and decide on the positions we want to take in editorials.
Are we supposed to believe that the three members of the hive mind always agree, or that all three opinions have equal weight? Also, when the three of you are writing editorials do you float weightlessly in a Jacuzzi like the precogs in The Minority Report? Because that would be cool.
I’m guessing the politics of the publisher and the editorial page editor aren’t quite the same. Somebody’s gotta be the queen bee, somebody’s gotta be the worker bee, and someone’s gotta be the drone.
Barker does most of the actual writing, but Birmingham and I read the editorials before publication, and make changes.
Yep. It sounds like Barker is the worker bee.
Occasionally we will run an editorial on a strictly national issue. These are almost always drafted by Dale McFeatters, the editorial writer for Scripps Howard News Service in Washington.
When that happens does his name go on the editorial, or is it added to the top of the editorial page? How is his authorship noted in the online copy? I don’t know. I’m asking.
- If and when the hive mind disagrees with itself, how does it decide what to say in the editorial? In my imagination I’m guessing either gladiatorial combat or a hot chili-eating contest.
- Are there other things the editorial hive mind collective does together, such as picking lottery numbers or going to the bathroom? Your readers have a right to know.
I’m having a little fun, Jack, but that’s because I find the notion of collective opinion so ridiculous and artificial. In any group decision, someone has more influence, either due to the strength of their argument, the strength of their personality, or the strength of their strength. In other words, someone is going to be Agatha. All I’m saying is that in that situation you should put Agatha’s name on it.
Les Jones (actual name)