McClatchy Sets Up Opinion Advisory Boards To Drive Commentary On Local Topics

McClatchy is pumping up its local opinion journalism by creating advisory boards for 12 of its titles.

The advisors from the local communities, will recommend topics for editorials and opinion pieces.

The move follows the naming of Peter St. Onge as McClatchy opinion editor. He takes over from Colleen McCain Nelson, recently appointed editor of company-owed Sacramento Bee.  

McClatchy, reportedly the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain, featured opinion sections in some of its titles. But other sections “are led by teams that oversee opinion content across multiple publications in the same region,” writes Sarah Scire in NiemanLab.

Going forward, opinion sections will focus on local and state issues,” St. Onge writes in an article posted on Feb. 22. “We’ll report before we write, and we’ll move at the speed of news.” 

St. Onge, who also serves as editorial page editor of The Charlotte Observer and The News & Observer of Raleigh, adds: “We see our columns and editorials not as opinion writing, but opinion journalism.” 



In February, editorial boards in Wichita, Fort Worth and North Carolina created boards with three to four members who will “broaden our insight and bring diverse voices to the conversations we have about issues and topics,”  St. Onge writes. 

He continues: “By the end of the year, all of our opinion teams will have advisory boards.”  

This move toward research-based opinion could be seen last year when McCain Nelson announced that McClatchy's 30 papers would be permitted to make a presidential endorsement only if they conduct interviews with both candidates, The New York Times reported.

“If we’re simply observing the race from afar, our ability to provide unique content and our own reporting is severely limited,” McCain Nelson wrote in a memo, per the Times.
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