One of the fundamental functions of a newspaper, and opinion pieces, in particular, is not to try and convince people what to think but to try and persuade people what to think about.
The opinion pieces I write have been coming into our readers’ homes for more than four years now, and opinions in newspapers are as old as the industry itself. Yet, misconceptions remain.
A local politician told me recently my opinions are biased, to which I responded that they are, that’s what an opinion is: views formed about something that isn’t necessarily based on facts. For instance, I think the University of Kentucky Wildcats men’s college basketball team is by far superior to every other team. I’m betting that instantly got a lot of people thinking. My opinion about Kentucky basketball is no different than my opinion about anything else – it is how I feel about a particular thing.
What’s most important, however, is keeping opinions on the opinion page, and we have always done so and will continue doing so. That’s not a choice editor’s make. It’s just how it is.
Another misconception is that I expect people to agree with the opinions I form and publish in this paper, and nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t write opinion pieces with the expectation that everyone, or anyone, for that matter, will agree with me. If you do agree, great, if you don’t, that’s great, too, because the purpose isn’t to make you agree with me, it’s to help you form your own opinion.
I’ve done my job as long as I’ve made you think about something, especially if it’s something you would not have otherwise thought about. When I get phone calls or emails from people who tell me they don’t agree with me, I tell them that’s good, they aren’t supposed to, and I encourage them to write a letter expressing their opinion.
What I do need people to do is keep reading the News-Journal, because I have one of the best jobs anyone could have and although you may not value my opinion, I assure you that I value yours and I want to hear from you.
Brandon Roberts is the publisher and editor of the News-Journal. He may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 828-765-7169.