What the N&O’s editorial board believes in

A concept illustration shows a train on the future Durham-Orange Light-Rail Transit traveling alongside U.S. 15-501.
A concept illustration shows a train on the future Durham-Orange Light-Rail Transit traveling alongside U.S. 15-501. Courtesy of GoTriangle

Like many news organizations across the country, The News & Observer publishes editorials reflecting the views of the opinion staff. That can be a mysterious process. We don’t want it to be. Here’s a summary of how we work and what we believe in.

As opinion and solutions editor, I manage The N&O’s opinion coverage and report to publisher Sara Glines. I’m joined on the opinion staff by associate editor Ned Barnett and Shelbi Polk, who recently became The N&O’s first community engagement reporter and producer.

Barnett and I write columns with our names on them, as well as editorials by the editorial board. I also edit columns from our five community columnists, who write monthly; from regular contributors such as J. Peder Zane; and other columns that are submitted from the community.

When I joined the opinion staff earlier this year, Jim Jenkins had just retired and the editorial board effectively was Barnett and me. We thought we needed more voices to advise us and talk over issues and policies.

Recently, Glines joined the board, as did N&O executive editor Robyn Tomlin and Colin Campbell, who is editor and columnist for the Insider State Government News Service, which is owned by The N&O. (Tomlin and Campbell are involved in reporting the news and steer clear of advising us on issues directly related to partisan politics.)

The board meets regularly to talk about issues to highlight in our opinion report, and advises us on other matters, such as the upcoming process for election endorsements (more on endorsements soon).

The board thought it important we focus our opinion report on a few key issues important to our community and state. These areas could change over time. Here are five areas where we will foster a discussion through editorials and opinion pieces from the community:

Democracy and good government. We support efforts to increase voter participation and confidence, and oppose efforts to disenfranchise voters through methods such as excessive gerrymandering. We believe confidence in government improves when public agencies operate openly and when campaign finances are transparent.

Smart growth. We advocate for public transportation, dense housing, open space, walkable neighborhoods and avoiding sprawl. We believe government and business should work together to create affordable housing for all of our residents, especially those displaced by gentrification.

Strong public schools for all children. We believe every child in North Carolina should be able to get a good education at a public K-12 school. We believe educators should be respected and treated as professionals, and that public schools should be well funded.

Clean air and water, and preserving our coastline. We support sensible regulations that balance industry growth needs with long-term health and safety of residents. We advocate for steps that reduce climate change but also for preparing for sea-level rise and other climate change issues the state will face.

Nurturing the creative class. Change in the Triangle is being driven by a new generation of workers, many of them tech-based, entrepreneurial, artistic and environmentally conscious. But their economic and social impact is not reflected in the region’s political institutions. By listening to this rising generation, we will bring this group forward by explaining their hopes for the region with the aim of building bridges between the established Triangle and the emerging one.

We believe The N&O opinion sections should be where the Triangle and North Carolina come to read and discuss the most significant state and local issues of our era. We hope you will join the discussion.

Drescher is at jdrescher@newsobserver.com and 919-829-4515.