Monday, October 30, 2006

"Things to do before I die"

If you’re the type of person with a list of "Things to do before I die," I’ve got an addition for you.

It probably belongs at about #57 or #58 on the list, somewhere inbetween "Go on an African safari" and "Spend one night in a Wal-Mart."

Here it is: Join the editorial board of a newspaper.

You may think it sounds lame, but I assure you it is actually one of the cooler things we newspaper people get to do.

OK, that didn’t make it sound much cooler.

But hear me out on this.

Editorial boards, like the one at the Collegian (which we lovingly refer to as the Board of Opinion, or BOO for short), are an organized body of co-workers getting together to iron out issues and ultimately tell the world what they think and why.
How is there anything cooler than a chance to showcase your opinion in front of a huge audience?

That’s what editorials are, the column-like content on a newspaper’s Opinion Page that is not accompanied by a byline. That’s simply because editorials are not the opinion of one person; they are they opinion of a collective body of individuals, and, therefore, should carry some more weight.

Matter of fact, they are supposed to be the opinion of a group of individuals who are generally more informed about news events than the average reader.

That absolutely does not mean that editorials are always right; they are wholly and completely opinions like any other opinions and should be regarded as such.

But I think it’s important for readers to at least know how they are developed, particularly editorials that fall into the category of endorsements.

And with elections coming up in a week, readers across the country may be bombarded with this type of editorial in all types of newspapers. Endorsements are simply the opinion of an editorial board about what candidate they recommend for an elected office.

These are valuable editorials because they can potentially influence voters for the better of society. Of course, if editorial boards screw up, then the effects can be damaging.

At most newspapers, including the Collegian, endorsements are written after the board has interviewed all candidates for the position and gotten a good grasp of each candidate’s platform, experience and credibility.

From here, it is the job of the editorial board to debate each candidate’s positive and negative characteristics and then decide who is best suited for the office.
Then a member of the board is charged with the task of writing the board’s opinion in the form of an editorial, which in turn can influence readers on who to vote for.
The Collegian has in the past endorsed candidates for student government and for presidential elections. However, it is difficult to endorse candidates for state and federal offices because the candidates often do not have time to sit down with the Collegian’s Board of Opinion or they do not value the votes of the younger demographic.

It’s unfortunate, but all we can do is invite them.

So, Bob Casey, Rick Santorum, Ed Rendell and Lynn Swann…any takers?