I’ve made a few changes both in print and online in the last six months to try to clarify for Citizen readers what is a news article and what is opinion in the paper.
These are two very different beasts, so to speak, and when people confuse which is which it can cause gnashing of teeth by our readers, and then by us when they write us to complain or post comments below a piece.
When we write news stories we try to present multiple angles, when possible. We like to have at least two sides to the story. We try not to let our own opinions colour the facts.
Columns are the opportunity for our reporters and contributors to express what they think and feel about a given subject. They are not designed to be objective by their very nature. They are like a reporter’s letter to the editor.
In letters, our readers are free to make whatever argument they choose, without any obligation to try to see the other side. You can be colourful and persuasive and arbitrary.
Such it is with opinion columns. And neither necessarily express the views of the newspaper or its parent company. Much as we don’t always agree with the opinions of letter writers, the opinions expressed by columnists are their own.
Columns are differentiated in print in a couple of ways. Above the piece is a line stating “column”. They also have a reporter’s or contributor’s photo attached in most cases (when there is not, it is because someone has sent in a guest column as a one-off).
Online, the headline is prefaced by “column”.
I love columns because they show us other people’s views, and can get us to look at a topic in a way we might not have before. It’s the same reason I love getting all your letters. Columns can provoke responses both good and bad. Feel free to tell us which way it strikes you.
But please refrain from complaining that the author hasn’t been objective or told your side of the story.
Because you shouldn’t expect that in a column.
That’s not what they’re for.
Feel free to tell us your side of the story by responding with a letter to the editor. I promise we won’t chastise you for not being objective about it.