Centrism of Post reflected in editorial board

A while back, The Denver Post’s  Editorial Page Editor Dan Haley provided me a website page listing the names and bios of each of the newspaper’s editorial board members. Here’s the link, and below are the names, which I couldn’t locate using The Post’s search tool. They usually appear at the bottom of The Post’s column of editorials:

William Dean Singleton, chairman and Publisher;
Dan Haley, editorial page editor;
Gerald Grilly, president and CEO;
Vincent Carroll, columnist;
Mike Littwin, columnist;
Alicia Caldwell, editorial writer;
Mike Keefe, cartoonist;
Barbara Ellis, news editor;
Cohen Peart, letters editor.

If you’re thinking, who cares, then you’re reading the right blog post, because you should care for a number of reasons.

This group, or portions of it, meets regularly with muckety-muck public figures, and theoretically decides on which candidates to endorse and which positions the newspaper should take in the political fray.

As a practical matter, the board doesn’t vote on every issue or candidate race. And Post chairman Dean Singleton has veto power but doesn’t participate very often. (Singleton told me in 2006 that he reversed only two endorsements up to that time: for Bush in 2004 and Owens in 1998.)

Here’s what Post Editorial Page Editor Dan Haley recently wrote, in response to my question about how the board makes decisions. (He pointed out that this isn’t very exciting.)

“The board meets routinely to talk through the issues of the day, and what we might want to write about. We generally reach a consensus about what the house editorial should say. If we can’t, I’ll make the decision for us. We rarely have actual votes because they’re not really necessary. And as I noted in my column, our opinion isn’t always my opinion, and that’s as it should be. Singleton doesn’t weigh in that often, but he certainly can. As publisher, he sits on the board.”

Haley had just written a column about how The Post came around to endorsing Chris Romer for mayor, despite Singleton’s preference for Mejia.

In any case, back to why this matters.

This indeed a deadly boring topic for a blog post,  but I’m continually amazed at the inability of people to distinguish the news and opinion sections of The Post.

If you don’t like something about The Post’s opinion page, or think something’s missing, contact the people on the editorial board, not a news reporter. (Of course, you can also write a letter to the editor.)

Conversely, you don’t want to complain about editorials to reporters or news editors, because they will say it’s not their purview. Contact them about problems with news stories, or, again, write a letter to the editor.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that no one reads this stuff. The Post still has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, a dedicated following of political elites, plus online viewers.

I think the makeup of the editorial board, and how it functions, lends credence to those who argue that the newspaper’s opinion page is basically centrist, with left and right represented. I don’t mean to open up an endless debate about how you define “left” and “right,” but the editorials don’t look like they were written by Littwin or Carroll very often. (OK, maybe they look like they reflect a bit more of Carroll’s thinking, but I haven’t done my bean count yet to see if this is provable with evidence.)

I know from experience that many people, if they make it to the end of this blog post, will just not believe it. They can’t accept that a newspaper’s editorial page, along with the news section, isn’t under the day-to-day thumb of the owner. I know the owner has an impact, sometimes a huge one, but to write off The Post as controlled by one side or the other is not demonstrably true.

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