When I started in the news business, I was in the first generation to use desktop computers to do the job.
In a little over 40 years, the way we work has changed dramatically — from typing stories with carbon paper to storing documents in the cloud.
It has been a challenging adjustment. Readership on digital devices is exploding, advertising not so much. Meanwhile, traditional newspaper advertisers — department stores, auto dealers, job recruiters — are struggling to deal with their own financial disruptions.
For Opinion page readers, this means that the cutback on space in the daily paper is likely the new normal. However, that does not diminish our goal to find different ways, online and in print, to present knowledgeable and diverse opinions.
A recent letter from several loyal readers expressed understandable frustration about the shrinking space. The writers also objected to our running excerpts of columns by local and syndicated writers posted in full at Kentucky.com/opinion. The letter demanded more space for Opinion — a sentiment I truly appreciate.
But we have to deal with reality. There is only so much we can fit on one news page, while online is infinite. And sometimes — such as during legislative sessions or when major news develops — the paper is blessed with a swell of reader opinion that is especially timely.
We view the Opinion page as a modern-day public square, hosting a cacophony of voices. Even with our limited space, we publish more reader opinion than most print media. And writers don’t need titles or elected positions to have their say.
Running excerpts of local and national commentary that appear online is one way to showcase a range of thought and to ensure newspaper readers can join the discussion. It is not an effort to give print readers less, but to give them as much as we can.
For many, an engaging excerpt may be sufficient. Others may be interested enough to read the full column online. Some, we accept, may resent having to use a computer or smartphone to do so.
The Herald-Leader’s focus will remain on providing ways for community concerns to be shared, issues debated and situations applauded. The paper is fortunate to have readers with creativity and courage who have steadily contributed for more than a decade, despite the risk of negative feedback. We expressed our appreciation to those who were able to attend at a luncheon a few months ago.
We live in an educated community and in a state full of people with generations of connections. That means we will always have readers who are outspoken about where the area, state and nation are headed.
Over the last month, we have been recruiting additional volunteers willing to write online columns over the next year, with the understanding that the work may not appear in full in the newspaper. The deadline to apply is Monday.
As we adjust to industry changes, we will not forget that the most loyal of our subscribers — print and online — still look forward to reading a newspaper. Thank goodness.
Vanessa Gallman is Herald-Leader editorial page editor.
Call for Community Columnists
The Herald-Leader is looking for volunteers to write at least a column a month over the next year. The work will appear primarily online and on social media, with promotions in the print paper. We are especially eager to hear from conservatives, women, minorities, young adults and those who live outside of Lexington. Send to email@example.com: a column of no more than 650 words, two other column ideas, a bio and a face shot. Deadline: June 19