Opinion editors look to spark conversation

Editors believe reader opinions lead to a more well-rounded, balanced section



Alana Lackner, Opinion Editor for The Summer Evergreen, previews this week’s Opinion section at her desk Wednesday evening in Murrow Hall.

ALANA LACKNER, Evergreen managing editor

As long as I’ve been a part of The Daily Evergreen, I’ve felt pulled to the opinion section. I started out as an opinion columnist myself, then spent some time as a copy editor and life reporter before I ended up back in opinion. Of course, this time I found myself behind the opinion desk, laying out pages and communicating with columnists, instead of being out writing.

One thing that drew me to opinion is the fact that it’s an outlier. News and life and even sports rely on objectivity. They tell things as they are, present nothing but facts, and let, you, the reader, decide the rest.

Opinion is different. Objectivity in a news piece is a necessity, but in an opinion piece, it’s a fatal flaw. There has to be a clear and concise argument and the writer has to take a stance. Whether or not they personally agree with everything they write, it has to be well-researched and well-argued, and it has to say, “This is what’s right, this must happen.”

Because of this, opinion is polarizing.

There’s a lot of pressure on the opinion section, because people go to opinion to see which direction a paper leans politically. Since everything else is objective, it’s often the only place to look for a perspective held by the paper. The news reporting can be stellar, the coverage of events can be incredibly thorough, but what they see in the opinion section is often what makes people decide whether or not a paper is good.

There’s a fear that comes with that. The fear that pieces leaning one way or the other will alienate some readers, or give them an overall negative opinion of the paper.

But the thing is, as editors, we can’t let ourselves be ruled by that fear.

Our columnists often pick their own subjects, and we let them. We want them to be able to write things they’re passionate about and have an interest in, and we’re not going to make them write on opinions that they don’t personally care about.

Does that mean we don’t want our section to be balanced? No, of course not. But the fact is, we can’t always find columnists that have opinions on both sides of an issue.

And that’s where you, the reader, come in.

The thing is, here in the opinion section, we love opinions. We can’t help it. The more well-researched, well-written and passionate they are, the better. If you read something in our section and think, “Oh come on, that’s not true at all! I have a hundred reasons why that’s wrong,” then you’re absolutely what we’re looking for.

Send us your thoughts. We’re interested in them, and we’ll read them. We might even publish them. We’re here to broadcast voices, and we’re here to broadcast opinions. If you have one, you can share it. The other opinion editor, Alex Biviano, and I would be thrilled to read it. We’re here because we love opinions, and we want yours too. Our inbox is always open.