Opinion: Putting a name to editorials
For generations, unsigned editorials have been a staple of the nation's newspapers, including The Oklahoman. Traditionally, these commentaries are unsigned because they reflect the view of the newspaper’s editorial board.
Beginning with Wednesday's page, editorials on this page will carry my name, a nod to the ever-evolving changes within the industry.
One of those specific to this newspaper is that we have not had a true editorial board — a staff of opinion writers along with members of Oklahoman management — since fall 2018 when the paper was sold to Gatehouse Media. The sale resulted in several editorial board members departing.
For several months after, the “board” included the paper’s editor, Kelly Dyer Fry, and the two remaining opinion writers. Since April 2019, when belt tightening meant the departure of my writing colleague, it has been Kelly and me. With one exception, every house editorial published in the past 20 months has been my handiwork.
Kelly’s resignation, effective Sunday, brings more change. Her successor is Clytie Bunyan, a veteran of this newspaper who signed off on my suggestion to append my byline to future editorials.
This change is needed because of what is noted above. Although the views expressed on this page for the past 20 months have been in line with the traditional conservative bent of The Oklahoman, they ultimately have been mine, and they will be going forward.
Placing my name with the editorial also will make it clear to readers, I hope, that if they have a problem with what is written, they should point the finger at me and not at the newspaper — and certainly not at our reporters.
As noted in an editorial in November about endorsements of political candidates, the opinion page and news section of the newspaper are separate entities. However, it can be easy for officials to place them in the same basket, and consequently to make it more difficult for reporters to do their jobs.
As part of this move, I want to reiterate what has always been the case at The Oklahoman, and certainly has been throughout my nearly 17 years writing editorials and six years as opinion editor: All views are welcome on this page, provided they are offered respectfully and they adhere to longstanding guidelines — 250 words max for letters, 450-500 words for op-eds. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is (405) 475-3205. Don’t hesitate to write or call.
A final thought: One of the fun things about this job through the years has been having friends tell me, “I like trying to figure out which editorials are yours. I’m pretty good at it.” As often as not, however, their guesses have been wrong. Starting this week, they won’t have to guess any longer.
— Owen Canfield, Opinion page editor