In our opinion: Explaining editorial elements

Deseret News editorial

Published: Sun, Aug. 17, 2014, 12:00 a.m. MDT

(Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

One evening a number of years ago, a Deseret News copy editor approached the staff producing the paper’s sports section with a page proof of baseball coverage in her hand and a question on her mind.

“What’s a home run?” she asked, with the sports staffers smiling, waiting for her anticipated punch line.

A joke never came, and they quickly stifled their surprise, realizing she seriously wanted a description of what constitutes a home run. (For those at home keeping score, a home run is when a batter hits a pitched baseball several hundred feet in the air over the outfield fence, scoring one run himself and an additional run for each baserunner.)

As she thanked us and turned to leave, she added: “Don’t you think you should explain that to your readers sometimes — for people like me?”

It’s doubtful the Deseret News sports section — or any other major publication, for that matter — has provided such a simplified glossary for baseball. But maybe it’s time to talk “home runs” for the Deseret News editorial pages.

As a print publication and online entity, the Deseret News offers news, analysis and commentary flowing from six areas of editorial emphasis that resonate with a large local, national and international audience. Those six core areas are: the family, faith in the community, excellence in education, financial responsibility, care for the poor and values in the media.

Whether in print or online, the Deseret News editorial voices look to regularly reflect those same six areas of emphasis.

The Deseret News editorial page strives to be a dignified moral voice to people of faith and conscience throughout the world. Through careful analysis and thoughtful commentary, it seeks to dispel ignorance, enabling readers to make a positive difference in their families and communities.

Although neutral on matters of partisan politics, it boldly advocates for the free exercise of religion as an essential liberty, the traditional family as the fundamental unit of society, moral agency as an indispensable condition for responsible citizenship and care for the underprivileged in their honorable self-betterment as a duty for all individuals. And it promotes the principles of liberty espoused in the United States.

While the editorial page is a place for its own opinion and perspective, the Deseret News regularly shares thoughtful insight from individuals who augment our effort to be a dignified moral voice to people of conscience throughout the world. Our columnists address current affairs that affect readers and bring expertise and analysis. We value those moral voices that consider other perspectives, avoid polarization and attempt to persuade with reason and analysis.

Focusing first on the print product, the Deseret News’ editorial page is published daily. On Mondays and Saturdays, it stands alone, while on Tuesdays through Fridays, it is accompanied by a facing “op-ed” page — “op-ed” short for “opposite the editorial page.” Sundays feature expanded commentary in the multi-page “Voices” section.

Nearly all the editorial elements found on the printed pages can be found online at www.deseretnews.com/opinion.

Following is a brief summary of the Deseret News’ common editorial-page components:

EDITORIALS: Also known as “house editorials” or “unsigned editorials,” these writings represent the Deseret News’ collective voice and tone — celebrating successes, pointing out needs for improvement, providing analysis and perspective, and calling for action or caution. A small handful of writers write on behalf of the Deseret News.

“WHAT OTHERS SAY”: Published in print and usually underneath the “house” or “unsigned” editorials Tuesdays through Saturdays, these provide a glance of editorial commentary from other major newspapers. Due to contractual limitations, these summaries are not available online.

“READERS’ FORUM”: Simply put, this constitutes letters to the editor, a staple of editorial pages and a sampling of public expression. With space a premium and multiple expressions our intent, brevity in writing is a bonus. Guidelines for submitting letters are at the end of each Readers’ Forum.

“MY VIEW”: Whether written in response to an invitation from the Deseret News or composed and submitted independently, the “My View” pieces — which generally run Sundays and Tuesdays through Fridays — provide commentary and insight from public figures and the public in general, in a longer-than-a-letter-to-the-editor format. Guidelines are also found at the end of the daily Readers’ Forum.

EDITORIAL CARTOONS: Another mainstay of editorial pages, with the Deseret News selecting the work of a collection of nationally syndicated editorial cartoonists. What may take hundreds of words to express in writing sometimes can be more easily expressed quickly and effectively in a drawing — sometimes with humor, sometimes with pointedness, with wit, with wisdom, in tribute or in tears.

OP-ED COLUMNS: The Deseret News draws from a host of local and national contributors — current or former members of its own staff, some syndicated columnists and others with valuable expertise or perspectives from their service or profession. Their views and expression are their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the Deseret News or the institutions they represent.

By “touching all the bases” of the fundamental elements of the editorial pages, readers can understand the purposes of the various pieces as well as the difference in the multiple voices.

1. marxist
Salt Lake City, UT,
Aug. 17, 2014

This makes me scratch my head: "...and care for the underprivileged in their honorable self-betterment as a duty for all individuals."

The Deseret News editorially doesn't care about shifts in distributions of wealth and income favoring the wealthy. These shifts are stressing all those who are not wealthy. You seem to imply: "the capitalist system knows best, and that system is not to be questioned - ever." Do I state this correctly?

2. Owen
Heber City, UT,
Aug. 17, 2014

It seems like something's missing. Although not exclusive to the editorial section, the reader comments in the online edition are an important part of the editorial dialogue - else why the focus on "most commented?" Voices from across the nation weigh in on nearly every issue. The problem is they are anonymous voices.

Not allowing anonymity could make the Deseret News' comment feature better reflect the paper's and its owner's proclaimed commitment to civil dialogue. A registration process that requires contributors to own their comments, as in your Reader's Forum, would make life easier for your moderators, raise the level of the dialogue, and make the Deseret News as unique as it claims to be in today's divisive media.

3. liberal larry
salt lake City, utah,
Aug. 17, 2014

With several notable exceptions, Deseret News editorials typically take hard Right political views, and many times they show an real lack of research on the part of the writer. Many of them seem to be inspired by a single article, or study, that takes a view that affirms the Deseret News conservative world view.

That being said, the DNews has taken a courageous stance by only gently moderating comments that disagree with their editorials.

4. RC in WJ
Aug. 17, 2014

Thank you for the "Explaining Editorial Elements" article! It answered several question I have had, but the statement "Although neutral on matters of partisan politics" was a little more than even the most gullible could swallow!

Thanks again for the inside look on your Editorial publishing policy!

5. The Educator
South Jordan , UT,
Aug. 17, 2014

Please don't take my criticism and deny this comment. Take it as constructive criticism.

The dnews rarely "analyzes" anything. They simply copy and paste articles, many which are outdated or discredited by peer review, from Heritage and the Cato Institute. The editorial page is a hodgepodge of cut and pasted articles, often, they contradict each other, in an effort to support their right wing agenda.

I remember a few weeks ago an "analysis" offered by the dnews which attacked democrats and stated that democrats were discouraging people from having children. That somehow smaller families was a bad thing and the state could support unlimited growth. This was on their editorial page (copied from Heritage).

Then, literally a day later, in another section of the paper, there were scientists sending out warnings about the lack of water in the state. A day later, a report on our worst in nation air quality. A day later, a landslide in north salt lake which destroyed a home.

So after all of this, I felt like the "analysis" offered in the editorial section was debunked by the Dnews's own reporting in other sections. We cannot support unlimited growth in this state.