Time to think out loud

Posted 1/8/09

It’s about time. That’s the first thing I could come up with to lead off a column that is this long overdue. I’ve written editorials about …

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Time to think out loud


It’s about time.

That’s the first thing I could come up with to lead off a column that is this long overdue. I’ve written editorials about various things in the past, but they have appeared few and far between.

Here’s the problem with editorials versus columns in my mind and why I shy away from the former: Good editorials tackle problems and produce definitive answers. I’m just not a definitive answers sort of guy. The kinds of problems that lend themselves to definitive answers are probably so small they don’t warrant much discussion in the first place.

On the other hand, columns allow writers to think out loud about things they don’t have the answers for. Rants, observations and questions all are welcome in columns. One columnist, and I can’t remember who, said the art of writing a column rests with the writer’s ability to ramble on and on about things while laboring under the delusion that people care enough to read it.

I’m aiming a little higher than that, though I don’t promise that I won’t rant about my in-laws or the dog from time to time.

By and large, what I hope to do is open up lines of communication. This is something that editors, me in particular, are not great at doing. The thing is, we’re paying the price for that in this industry right now.

Nationwide, newspapers are failing and in part it’s because they no longer connect with readers as much as they used to. My favorite sports talk radio host once said, “Newspapers are smug, agenda-driven and had it coming.” Even though I don’t see myself as being particularly agenda-driven, it stung a bit and I understand his point.

Beyond that, I simply can’t continue to do my job properly in the rather small bubble I’ve created for myself.

What really drove this point home to me is the story about the Littleton Public School’s recent decision to close two elementary schools. I sat in my office wracking my brain to come up with an insightful story idea that would help people better understand the reasons why, the possible solutions, what that says about the future of our corner of the world, how to reverse the enrollment trends that caused it, whether it should be reversed at all and how to move forward.

The long and the short of it is that I’m not sure exactly what it says about our community or whether the enrollment trend is really something under our control to reverse. It’s one of those issues where thinking out loud might help me get my thoughts straight about this and maybe it will be helpful to you, too. That’s the point of this column, aside from those weeks when I’m ranting about my in-laws.

Interacting with a column is a bit archaic in this day and age. That’s why I’ve also launched an editor’s blog where I can write some of these things and, more importantly, you also can share some of your thoughts. You can get to my blog from our Web sites.

I look forward to this new venture.


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