House editorial: A spectrum of opinion

Say goodbye to the Commentary page as it has been for nearly three years. As of Tuesday, we’re getting a new look and a steadier, more predictable schedule.

For the past several weeks, the editorial board has been gauging reader feedback on several “test” syndicated columnists.

Aside from the addition of half a dozen of these national syndicated columns (thanks, by the way, for all the feedback), the Post Register has also already added a weekly column for each the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee (Wednesdays) and the Bonneville County Democrats (Thursdays).

Neal Larson, a conservative co-host of a local AM radio talk show, will have his thoughts published by the Post Register each Tuesday.

David Adler, a local Constitutional scholar whose opinions many readers respect and admire, and many others decry as liberal extremism, will continue to appear on Friday’s Commentary page.

Noticing a pattern?

Here are two samples of the reader feedback we received that helped push us toward this measured process in re-shaping the tone of the Commentary page:

1.) “At this point in time, (the Post Register) has become an extension of the extreme left and the Democratic Party… Day after day, you embrace your ‘regulars’ that keep us swimming in pro-Democrat and anti-Trump rhetoric. Beyond the Opinion page, even the news articles are obviously slanted left. I’ve endured your left-leaning presentation of news and opinion all this time and am weary of justifying my support for such an organization.”

2.) “With all the changes that have occurred since the paper was sold, and all the changes that will inevitably arise finding the right prescription for growth and profitability I’m inclined to look elsewhere for news and commentary…”

“One primary concern would be printing more of the fundamentalist hard right propaganda. The Evangelicals have co-opted the tone of the Commentary page for quite some time…Trying to broaden the community perspective by printing illiberal perspectives only legitimizes the extremists.”

Throughout the process of running “test columns,” we had readers threaten to cancel their subscriptions because if we picked up this or that “conservative” or “liberal” columnist, it would be the last straw. This is nothing new, but the volume has certainly been cranked way up – in even the three years since this page’s editor has been around.

What’s obvious is that no one is really listening to anyone anymore, not even in our own community, much less from all the way across the political spectrum. As this page’s editor learned the hard way, confirmation bias – buying whole cloth something that resonates as true, even if it’s a load of garbage – is real, it’s scary and it is eating this country alive.

Will our newspaper change all that single-handedly? The thought is laughable. Yet, what choice do we have except to try?

We hope our careful consideration of both reader feedback, along with some good old-fashioned color coding in Excel spreadsheets, and over a month’s worth of collaboration will yield, not necessarily a moderated perspective, but rather an opportunity to listen to what people outside our bubble are saying.

We move forward into a country where some are beginning to question whether the United States’ system of governance is sustainable as it was envisioned by our Founding Fathers. Will the two letter writers quoted above become best friends? It’s doubtful. Will they listen to one another? It seems less likely than it did in 2015.

But if it can happen anywhere, it can happen in a respectful and constructive community forum.

Why not this one?

“Our View” editorials reflect the perspectives of the Post Register editorial board. The editorial board is made up of Travis Quast, publisher, Monte LaOrange, managing editor and Katie Stokes, Commentary page editor.