Expanding the public conversation about things our communities most care about has been a major objective of our company for several years. It’s part of our ongoing effort to be more relevant, listen more and give more voice to more people interested in candid, civil discussions.
The Opinion page plays an obvious role in this endeavor, and that role expands Sunday, when we debut our new Insight & Books section. Its official mission is to provide a “forum for discussion about and by Eastern Iowans, their communities and the world at large.”
That’s a broad mission, but we have some specific plans in mind. We want to provide not only opinions but more informed viewpoints, analysis and other material — more insight — and more of it from Eastern Iowans or inspired by the readers we serve.
Yes, there will still be letters to the editors and other standard fare on the Opinion pages. However, Insight & Books will include these additions and changes:
l The centerpiece on the cover will be devoted to in-depth discussion and perspective tied to our “top 10” community and regional issues (more on those later).
l “Blogfeed” will provide newsy, thought-provoking excerpts from local and regional bloggers of note.
l Our new fact-check feature, “The Smell Test,” will be moved to this section.
l We’ll be inviting a wider variety of guest columnists, including knowledgeable grass-roots community folks.
l Both of our staff columnists, Todd Dorman and Jennifer Hemmingsen, will be featured.
l The Books section, coordinated by Features Editor Carly Weber, will not only provide book reviews and related information of local interest, but also offers readers an opportunity to be a part of The Gazette’s new book club and submit their own reviews.
l All of this is packaged in a new look and layout, designed to help readers easily navigate the section.
In the weeks to come, we’ll be soliciting your feedback and suggestions, through The Gazette and our website, on what you think should be pursued and incorporated into our print and online discussion forums.
We especially want your ideas about the top 10 issue areas referenced above. These are the same priority issues that our news teams will be tackling:
Government transparency and trust
Education, infrastructure and transformation
Long-term flood recovery
Health care systems
Insight & Books is a new product we hope will better engage, inform and connect with Eastern Iowans. Check it out on Sundays, and tell us what you think.
n Jeff Tecklenburg is The Gazette’s Opinion Page Editor. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org or (319) 398-8262.