News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 7, 2006

Changes will bring new vitality to our opinion pages


When Dave Bennett, longtime assistant professor of journalism at Indiana State University, died in March after a two-year battle with heart disease, the Tribune-Star and its readers lost a true friend.

Since 2001, Dave had been writing editorials for our opinion page on a routine basis, even while maintaining his teaching load at ISU. When he suffered a stroke two years ago that led to his retirement from the university, he was still able to carry on with his editorial writing.

That ended late last fall when Dave’s health began a rapid decline. His final editorial was published the last week of November.

Meanwhile, the number of editorials published dropped significantly. But we have recently been working to restructure our staff to give more support to this vital task.

I am happy to report today that our restructuring is complete, and the result will be a more vital, robust and engaging editorial page.

Last Monday, Stephanie Salter took on a new position as a manager in our newsroom. She will now serve in an assistant editor role, performing some supervisory duties, but primarily focusing on writing her column and helping us craft editorials and set editorial page policy.

Those of you who are fans of Stephanie’s writing — and I know there are many, many of you out there — need not worry about seeing less of her work published in our newspaper. In fact, she intends to increase her column output to twice a week, probably on Sundays and Wednesdays. Meanwhile, she will join me and columnist Mark Bennett in writing more editorials for the daily and Sunday opinion pages.

We also have decided to resume operation of an editorial board. An editorial board is made up of newspaper staffers whose job it is to sift through issues, research topics, interviews sources if need be, and determine editorial positions for the newspaper.

A functioning editorial board existed here during the 1990s but ceased its work in early 2000. We are happy to bring it back.

I will chair the small group and will be joined on the board by Publisher David Thornberry, Stephanie Salter and Mark Bennett.

The first order of business is to determine the newspaper’s position on Union Hospital’s proposal to close a portion of Seventh Street to accommodate a major hospital expansion. Work has begun on that topic, and readers can expect an editorial position next Sunday.

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Conservative Columnist John Leo, whose commentaries have appeared in our Sunday Perspectives section the past six years, has ceased writing his column for syndication.

Leo’s place on our op-ed pages will be taken by Dianna West, a conservative columnist for the Washington Times.



Editor Max Jones can be reached at (812) 231-4336, or by e-mail at max.jones@tribstar.com.