In this era of industry pullback, it’s extraordinary for a newspaper to expand its editorial department, and it displays a phenomenal commitment to community, because editorial writers help readers better understand how our government works so they can better engage as citizens. But that’s precisely what The Post and Courier has just done.
As the beneficiary of this extraordinary commitment, I’d like to introduce myself.
I grew up on a tobacco farm in the North Carolina Piedmont, where I learned the importance of hard work, education, community and faith. I knew by third grade that I wanted to be a writer and by 10th grade that I wanted to be a journalist. I started down the road to policy wonk in my first week in college, when a series of happenstances pushed me out of philosophy and into my first of many political science classes.
I spent 14 years as a reporter — primarily at The State newspaper in Columbia, mostly covering the S.C. Legislature — before applying to become an editorial writer. As part of the application process, I had to write three editorials and an editorial column. This meant using facts, logic, common sense and the shared values of our society to educate and persuade people to re-examine or even change their perspectives, and it was the most natural thing I had ever done. More than 20 years later, it still is.
I was the last editorial writer at The State to survive the industry shrinkage, but my position was eliminated in August. During my involuntary sabbatical, when I was trying to figure out what my post-journalism career would be, I realized that I was called to help our state make progress on providing all kids the opportunity to get a decent education. Fortunately, that’s also something The Post and Courier wants to do, so expect to read a good deal more toward that end.
Among the other topics I hope to write about are some of our other shared passions: helping voters learn what their government is doing and who’s trying to influence their elected officials, giving governors more authority to run the executive branch of government, giving elected city and county council members more authority to govern their communities, improving highway safety, protecting the environment and promoting smarter ways for the Legislature to do, well, much of what it does.
In recent years, I’ve written two or three signed columns each week. (You can read some of my favorites on my website, which you can find via the online version of this column.) Here, my priority will be writing editorials, although I’ll occasionally write columns.
Unlike columns, which reflect the views of the writer, editorials reflect the consensus of the editorial staff. Coming to a consensus can mean writers don’t go as far as they want to, because others aren’t comfortable there, or that they include caveats that aren’t personal priorities. It’s much like coming to a consensus in our marriages, at our workplaces, with our friends — but editorial writers do this with the most important and difficult issues facing our society. Daily.
Whether I’m writing editorials or signed columns, I’ll nearly always write fact-based opinion: I’ll load you down with so much information and explanation that even if you don’t agree with my or our conclusions, you will, I hope, be better educated and better equipped to engage in the civil dialogue that is essential to the survival of our republic.
Cindi Ross Scoppe is an editorial writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Facebook or Twitter