Why should the opinions of an editorial board hold any value in our world? After all, there is no shortage of opinions from your mom, dad, grandparents, neighbor, boss, co-workers, elected officials, or the person who changes your oil. Social media and our technology-driven world have made opinion-sharing as common as breathing.
This dissemination of ideas and thoughts is good, but the perspective is often singular, the opinion of one individual. Again, there is nothing wrong with that, but there is also great value in the combined thoughts and opinions of several people who are tasked with dissecting and offering solutions to an issue, which is what we attempt as an editorial board.
The APG of East Central Minnesota Editorial Board is entering its 25th year of existence. In that time, the board has fluctuated in size, from a high of 15 to its current membership of eight.
In that quarter century, the board has taken many positions on issues that have been of interest to all Minnesotans, whether that relates to homelessness, affordable housing, water quality, elected officials, transportation, or law enforcement.
Sometimes our editorials have not been popular. Some can only be characterized as uncomfortable. Others have been designed to shed light or seek unity. Still others have been critical of people or institutions.
Our role as a board is not to migrate toward issues based on whether they will be comfortable to discuss, but whether debate about them is important to society.
As a board, we don’t always initially agree on every aspect of a position. It forces us to digest the issue, consider arguments that are easier to dismiss when living in our protective silos, but ultimately find common ground that can be articulated in an editorial.
Not all of our editorials will be welcomed by every reader either, nor should they. But, we do hope that every editorial cause each of us to consider a different perspective, contemplate alternatives and conduct further research about various topics. That is how we grow as a society. Understanding our differences helps close the gap on what separates us.
Sometimes that journey will be labored, but it is necessary.
This editorial board is comprised of many people who bring experience from different sectors of our communities.
Our current membership is chaired by long-time journalist Peggy Bakken, a former executive editor with Sun Newspapers and a recently inducted member of the Half-Century Club of the Minnesota Newspaper Association for her 50 years of service to journalism in this state.
She is supported by seven other board members.
Tom West is retired from a 42-year Minnesota newspaper career. A past president of the Minnesota Newspaper Association, he still writes a column for select APG newspapers. He lives in Little Falls.
Luther Dorr was the editor of the Princeton Union-Eagle from 1974 to 2007 and sportswriter for the Union and Union-Eagle for 55 years since 1968. He continues to write a weekly blog. He is a previous member of the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Young People in Journalism Committee.
Chuck Slocum is a newer member of the board and is the current president of the Williston Group. He is also the founder of Minnesota Business for Early Learning, president/CEO of the Arthritis Foundation Minnesota Chapter, Twin Cities, and Duluth, as well as a former state chair of the Independent-Republicans of Minnesota and government affairs coordinator for Target Corp.
John Gessner is a current co-managing editor at Sun Thisweek Newspapers in Dakota County, covering government, police and schools for 25 years. He previously worked as a reporter for community newspapers in Washington County and Redwood Falls. He is a 1984 journalism graduate of the University of Minnesota.
Angelica Klebsch is the director of community partnership and investments at Second Harvest Heartland and is also a partner at AKG Consulting. She is also a lecturer at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs and was a senior advisor on special projects and public policy for the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General.
Stephanie Klinzing worked in community journalism for 11 years, served in elected public office for 18 years, and currently serves on two state administrative boards and the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund. She lives in Elk River.
Keith Anderson is director of news for APG of East Central Minnesota and has 36 years in journalism where he has served as a reporter, sports editor, managing editor, and publisher.
Outgoing members of our board include Gene Merriam, a former state senator and commissioner of the DNR, as well as a former CFO for ECM Publishers. Gene’s insight into the legislature and environmental issues has been invaluable, as well as his public policy intellect. Roger Giroux, a former superintendent at Anoka-Hennepin Schools, is also exiting the board after 14 years of service. His expertise in education issues will be deeply missed, as will his commonsense approach to all issues.
Cliff Buchan was a reporter and editor at the Forest Lake Times from 1972-2012. He became a member of the editorial board in 2007, and also served as chair. He was able to navigate the board through many difficult issues during his tenure.
Mandy Froemming was an executive editor at Sun Newspapers and former editor at the UnionHerald newspaper in Coon Rapids. More recently she accepted a communications coordinator position with the Minnesota Department of Human Services-Children and Family Services.
As we reflect on the valuable contributions of these outgoing board members, we also recognize that there are others in our communities who would bring tremendous value to the board. Perhaps that is you. If you are interested in connecting with your community through this board, please reach out to our current board chair, Peggy Bakken, as we begin the process of appointing new members in the next few months.
The editorial board’s opinions won’t always be right. But as communities, we will always be stronger when we work collectively. That is our goal. Perhaps it is yours as well.
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