After I took over as the State Journal’s executive editor last year, I noticed something. And the thing I noticed hasn’t been sitting well with me for several months.
Simply put, our entire editorial board — the members of the State Journal who decide on the subject matters, perspectives and tones of our staff opinion articles — were just like me: middle-aged white men.
It is time for us to own and acknowledge that four middle-aged white men cannot fully understand or appreciate our proud, growing and more-diverse-by-the-day Madison and statewide communities.
Do I stand by every single staff opinion piece we’ve published since I took over in the middle of September 2020? Yes, I do. Our editorial board meetings are thoughtful, respectful, nuanced and lead to what I believe are strong opinions that you usually find in our Wednesday and Sunday print editions (and online anytime, of course). If and when you disagree with our editorial board’s view, we provide lots of space for reader opinions, giving preference to publishing those that oppose our positions.
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But as journalists, we’ve had a front-row seat to the #MeToo Movement, protests against racial injustice and racial achievement gaps in schools. We know how important it is to make sure all voices are heard and considered when it comes to news coverage. We must also consider this when we’re formulating our staff opinions.
That’s why today, I’m proud to announce that the State Journal will transition to an editorial board that also includes members of our diverse Madison and statewide communities. We’ve become a seven-member board with a combination of staff and community members.
State Journal Publisher Chris White, longtime editorial editor Scott Milfred and editorial cartoonist Phil Hands have a deep understanding of the issues facing our city, county, state and nation; they’ll remain on the editorial board. So will I. As the editor, being a part of that team is something that I take extraordinarily seriously.
But please join me in welcoming three new members to our new, more inclusive community editorial board.
Wayne Strong is a retired Madison Police lieutenant who also coordinates training for mental health workers in how to deescalate difficult situations. Janine Geske is a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and Marquette Law School professor. And Susan Schmitz has been a mainstay in the Madison business community for years and is a former Downtown Madison Inc. president.
Their perspectives, backgrounds and life experiences — their voices — will now be a part of every single conversation we have as an editorial board.
The work doesn’t end here. But I can’t think of a better place to start than with the group of people who shape and form the State Journal’s editorial voice.
Thank you for your support, and please make sure to check out the new voice of our editorial board today.