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Op-ed diversity query

Saturday, March 10, 2012 at 5:00:00 pm • Posted by: John McClelland

Erika Fry, an assistant editor at Columbia Journalism Review, plans a magazine piece about demographic diversity on op-ed pages, particularly data on the gender gap.  Her email says questions would include whether demographic diversity and gender balance matter on op-ed pages, if so how much, and why a gender gap exists.

I have posted her query to the AOJ members' discussion list. I think she'd like to hear from knowledgeable people who see this but are not (yet) on the list. She is at

New Masthead issue

Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 3:00:00 pm • Posted by: John McClelland

The Masthead, published since 1948-49 by the National Conference of Editorial Writers, returns under the organization's new name, Association of Opinion Journalists, with a multi-article winter 2012 issue.

It's at the Masthead link in the black menu bar atop our website, or via


Sunshine is for everyone March 11-17
Advocates pile on the robo-turf
Editorial endorsements? To stop, or keep? Why?
Civilitas project update; links to the root word, too
Why one editor left the digital cesspool
What another told readers about civic engagement

and Statement of Principles republished

Principles Statement republished

Monday, February 20, 2012 at 12:00:00 am • Posted by: John McClelland

The Basic Statement of Principles of the National Conference of Editorial Writers, adopted in 1975 and publshed frequently in print issues of Masthead, is now available for reading online or downloading as a one-page printable pdf with the organization's new name and logo at the top.

Pending further updating of the website, it is accessible by a Find search on the main page, an article in the General info box, or the link below:

The statement was specifically referenced in the proposal for the NCEW Civility Project, now Civilitas/AOJ.

--John McClelland,
with thanks to Lisa Strohl
and Frank Partsch

S-T edit board profiles, sans endorsement

Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 11:55:00 am • Posted by: John McClelland

Candidates still get high-profile exposure by the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board, but no endorsements.

The Feb. 16 Sun-Times has two full tabloid print pages, one on each of two hot local legislative primary contests, by the editorial board.

It offers three more contests "exclusively online" at a new site.*

The site has the two print stories. The promised three appear via headline links mixed in with previously published candidate profiles and analyses. The site has numerous recent election-related articles, candidate questionnaires and district maps. It limits free use and promotes paid online access.

* redirecting to…

References to the editorial board appear well down inside some stories. Some read like testy endorsement editorials but without endorsement or reference to the board.

The Sun-Times announced Jan. 23 that it would no longer endorse, but would continue doing edit-board interviews in addition to separate reporting by the news staff. The Chicago Tribune vowed next day to continue endorsing widely.

A forthcoming Masthead article on the no-endorsement decision deals with AOJ members' views of the value of endorsements. Except for needing a note like this one, I think it can stand.

Robo-turf upswing?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 12:00:00 am • Posted by: John McClelland

Editors of letters to the editor are discussing an upsurge in industrial-grade political emailings of artificial grass-roots letters, what some of us call robo-turf.

Guess where it has spiked recently?*

The discussion is on the members-only list of the Association of Opinion Journalists (ne National Conference of Editorial Writers). We'll have a _Masthead_ article soon, too.

*(Florida, Nevada...)