Editorials start discussion, are key part of journalism

The Northern Star Editorial Board feels compelled to explain the difference between editorials and other stories because readers should understand the value of opinion pieces like editorials.

An editorial on Page 1 of Thursday’s paper explained how the Star’s Editorial Board felt a candidate who is running in the Student Association’s executive elections was trying to intimidate the Star. Readers were confused and referred to the editorial as a “biased article” because they didn’t know the difference between an editorial and an article.

Editorials include opinion, but news articles do not. The Northern Star’s news coverage of events is completely unbiased. All articles are written objectively. In fact, the Star does not let its opinion staff write news articles — and its news staff cannot write opinion pieces — because of the Star’s commitment to producing unbiased news content.

Editorials are a chance for the Star to share its values and, in doing so, further readers’ understanding of news. It is very common for newspapers to have an opinion section and it is just as common for them to print editorials. Frank LoMonte, Student Press Law Center executive director, said having an editorial voice has been a part of journalism for more than 100 years. The purpose of an editorial is to stimulate discussion, he said.

“The editors, whether you like it or not, are some of the best-informed people on campus,” LoMonte said.

The Northern Star has won many awards for editorials — first- and second-place awards at the 2014 state conference, just to name a few ­­— and it will continue to write them on topics the Star should have a voice on as a way of encouraging discussion.