Who we are
News vs. editorial
About letters to the editor
Allen Johnson, editorial page editor (373-7010, email@example.com), is a Greensboro native and Dudley High School alumnus who relishes the chance to discuss issues that affect his hometown’s future. He joined the News Record in 1987 as features editor. In 1992 he became sports editor and in 1999 editorial page editor.
Allen leads editorial board meetings, edits most editorials and writes some editorials. He also screens letters to the editor and writes a weekly column.
Allen is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, where he received an undergraduate degree in English and a master’s degree in journalism. He has taught part time at a variety of area colleges, including UNC-Chapel Hill, UNCG, N.C. Central and, currently, N.C. AT. In 1996, he taught a short course in newspaper management for newsroom executives in Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia).
In addition, he volunteers at Jackson Middle School and serves on the boards of Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Youth Focus Inc. Never having entirely grown up, he is a model train buff and a member of Carolina Model Railroaders. He also likes to read, especially biographies and science fiction, goes to the movies obsessively and is addicted to jogging, despite bad knees and rapidly advancing age.
Doug Clark, editorial writer (373-7039 firstname.lastname@example.org) Doug joined the editorial department in 2004 after 20 years with the High Point Enterprise. He is a native of New York City, where his father was employed by Cone Mills and later Cannon Mills. Textiles drew the Clark family to North Carolina in 1971, affording Doug the opportunity to attend UNC-Chapel Hill, where he graduated with a degree in journalism. Doug worked for the Hickory Daily Record and Waynesville Mountaineer, then held government positions in Washington, D.C., in the early 1980s.
At the High Point Enterprise, he was associate editor and editorial page editor. Doug and his wife Margaret have two grown sons and a new daughter-in-law. They enjoy traveling whenever possible. Doug likes to read books about history, politics and exploration, jogs faithfully with his dog Murphy, and roots for the Tar Heels and New York Yankees. He tutored for many years in High Point schools and is an elder and Sunday school teacher at First Presbyterian Church in High Point.
Dennis Shelton, copy editor (373-7036, email@example.com): In addition to duties on the news copy desk, Dennis designs some daily editorial pages and Sunday Ideas section. He also copy edits the text and writes many of the headlines. Dennis has been employed by the News Record since 1988. He grew up near Nashville, Tenn., and is a graduate of Marquette University. He and his family live in Alamance County, where they are members of First United Methodist Church of Elon.
The News Record’s news and editorial departments are distinctly separate operations. The news department has nothing to do with the paper’s editorial stances and the editorial department has nothing to do with news coverage decisions. That’s the way we want it and the way we like it.
The editorials represent the official position of the newspaper’s editorial board with input from our publisher, Robin Saul; they are not the sentiment of any one individual. Hence, they aren’t signed. These editorials can be found on the left-hand side of the Opinion page. Editorial writers meet daily at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the news of the day, what we should write about and what our editorials should say.
Why are you so biased?
As Bill Clinton might have said, it depends on what your definition of bias is. If bias is to mean we take a discernible point of view in our editorials, then we are guilty as charged. That’s what editorial pages are: opinion sections. By their nature they express a point of view.
If your definition of bias means that we express our opinions at the exclusion of all others, we try very hard not to do that. That’s why the News Department is separate from the editorial pages.
And it is why our Second opinion pages, or op-ed pages, contain such diverse points of view. And it is why we print letters to the editor that often disagree with us and that often are intensely critical of the newspaper.
Why are you so liberal (or conservative)?
We prefer to call our stances moderate, meaning our positions tend to fall more in the middle than at extreme ends of the political spectrum. But some call us liberal; some call us conservative. Political views, we suppose, are in the eye of the beholder, but we like to think we call things as we see them.
We also try to avoid a one-size-fits all editorial philosophy. For instance, we favor stricter gun control. We oppose a North Carolina lottery. We judge candidates based on the issues, not their party affiliations. We also like to counterbalance our views by running a diversity of columnists, some conservative (Cal Thomas, George Will, David Brooks), some moderate (Leonard Pitts) and some liberal (Rosemary Roberts, Paul Krugman).
That said, our editorial positions once in a while may cut against the grain of what the majority of our readers feel because we believe that the most principled stances aren’t always the most popular ones.
Why won’t you get rid of a particular columnist?
We won’t get rid of any of these columns because they express extremely divergent schools of thought. They provide a spicy, provocative yen and yang on the editorial pages that lends a voice to many of our readers’ views and pricks at the foibles of liberals and conservatives.
Why are you so anti-business?
We support healthy growth and development in Greensboro, meaning prosperity without sacrificing quality of life.
Why do you endorse political candidates?
As a newspaper that stakes its positions on issues the other 364 days of the year, we think it would be odd if we did not take a stand on Election Day, when we choose our leaders. Our endorsements are intended more than anything else to reflect how the newspaper as an institution would vote, if it could, and to encourage readers to vote, whether they agree or disagree with our arguments. We neither have the power, nor the motive, to make the community vote a certain way. .
We subscribe to cartoons from national distributors such as Tribune Media Services and Universal Press Syndicate. We receive the cartoons daily via the Internet. Cartoons appear in the printed paper and on the Opinion page of the website.
We receive letters in a variety of ways — by mail, by e-mail, by fax — and some are personally delivered. Allen Johnson, the editorial page editor., looks over the letters and chooses the best for publication. We received more than 3,000 letters last year.
The letters then go back to Theresa Apple to be verified. We don’t want to take a chance on publishing a fake letter. Theresa then types the letters that didn’t arrive as e-mail. After the letters are entered into our computer system, staff members take turns editing them, writing the headlines and proofreading them.
How do I submit a letter using the News Record website?
Please click here.
Do you publish only letters that you agree with?
Quite the contrary. We disagree with the sentiments of a number of letters to the editor. But as long as they follow our guidelines for publication, they are likely to be printed. An exception is when we get a large volume of letters on the same subject that say essentially the same thing over a period of time. In that case, we might discontinue running them because we believe the discussion is not being advanced and that readers will lose interest.
What about letters that criticize the newspaper?
We will run such letters if they are factually correct, avoid personal attacks and address the paper’s coverage of civic issues in its printed editions. We will not publish letters that repeat dissatisfaction with longstanding newspaper policies, such as reviews of local arts performances. As for letters that address individual customer complaints, we will forward them to the appropriate department in the paper for a personal response.
How can I increase my chances of having a letter published?
Make sure you keep it to no more than 200 words. Type it or write it legibly. And refrain from personally attacking other letter writers. Discuss ideas, not personalities. In addition, it helps to avoid letters cliches — such expressions as: “I am shocked and appalled” and, “Wake up, (fill in the blank).” Emailed letters are most likely to be published soonest.
Why won’t you run unsigned letters?
We believe that letters that are signed are more credible and authentic. We also see a fairness issue here; for example, someone who criticizes a public official ought to be willing to disclose his or her name. It’s very easy to attack anyone and to say anything under the cover of anonymity.
What is your policy concerning “astroturf”?
Astroturf is the name coined for form letters that are circulated on the Internet and sent to newspapers throughout the country as the work of local letter writers.
They may come from political campaigns or from a variety of advocacy groups.
Our policy is very simple: We don’t run them.
Counterpoint columns occasionally run underneath the letters. Counterpoints can be up to 300 words but must respond to an editorial in the paper or another column. In the interest of fairness, you may not respond to a letter with a Counterpoint submission. However, not all Counterpoints submitted will run, and the bar for selection is higher than for a letter. They are judged on the quality of the writing, the soundness of the reasoning and the general interest in their subject matter.