For as long as anyone can remember, the Sentinel's editorial board has been an insider's club. The board — which meets periodically to take positions on a variety of issues — has always been comprised of the folks who work here, though not necessarily as journalists.
The names of board members, as always, are at the bottom of this page. On his way out the door, former managing editor Mike Wiggins encouraged the board to use his exit as impetus for change. Why not have members of the community be a part of the conversations that form the paper's editorial positions?
So, we undertook a mission to recruit some local subscribers. We found two that we think will add some balance and a fresh perspective to our work.
Ben Herman, 64, is an active retiree who moved here from the Front Range four years ago. He was a partner in an urban planning and zoning consulting firm that advised communities on growth management, city planning and community sustainability. He brings the "newcomer" perspective to our community.
Albert Ruckman, 76, is still working. He is a licensed engineer who founded GeoStabilization International in Grand Junction. He also runs a peach orchard with his son and grandson. GeoStabilization employs 400 people worldwide and Ruckman and his founding partner received the Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award from Colorado Mesa University, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and the Western Colorado Business Incubator Center in 2015-2016. A western Colorado native, Ruckman offers insights on the historic views of lifelong residents.
We met as a newly constituted board on Tuesday for the first time. "So, how does this work?" Herman asked. Does the board take turns writing editorials? Who decides the topics? How quickly do we turn a conversation into an actual editorial?
All good questions, which Herman and Ruckman will have answered on the fly as they adapt to their new roles. But Herman's inquiry raised a good point. The more readers know about the editorial board, the less likely they are to think that editorials are the views of a single person.
We largely write about local issues. Sometimes statewide issues when the Legislature is in session. We avoid writing about national issues for two reasons. First, we have syndicated columnists based in Washington, D.C., New York and on the West Coast who live in the world of national politics. They're more qualified than we are to play the insider's game. Plus, they ruminate on the issues that are fodder for the cable news analysts whose incendiary positions generate more heat than light.
The Sentinel's editorials are largely written by the newspaper's full-time editorial writer. The board discusses an issue or problem, takes a position, then the writer puts it into words and shares it with the group, where it can be critiqued and revised.
It's a fairly simple and straight-forward process that begins with reading the Sentinel's reporting and then asking the questions that come naturally. Is a particular development good or bad for the community? And what can be done to improve the situation or outcome?
Having outsiders on the board is a new and challenging experiment for us. Judge the results for yourself every Tuesday through Friday and on Sundays.