"Let 100 flowers bloom” might sound like a weird way to announce the expansion of conservative voices on The Herald’s opinion page.
The quotation comes from a 1957 speech by Mao Zedong, former chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, who was then inviting a diversity of views to bloom in China.
But the constructive colliding of diverse ideas from diverse people underscores the kind of editorial page The Herald in Sharon is trying to create. We want a forum that engages, informs, delights, provokes, and challenges readers to not only develop and define their own views but also understand the viewpoint of others.
No doubt, over the last several years, The Herald's opinion pages have failed to consistently offer a real variety of viewpoints.
During this presidential campaign, for example, we have run considerably more columns and cartoons that opposed President Donald Trump than those supporting him. It’s the most consistent complaint I’ve received since becoming editor of The Herald two months ago.
Print subscribers, who tend to be older and more conservative, led the charge. After I listened to their complaints, The Herald expanded its syndicated columnists to better balance viewpoints on our opinion pages. We are not dropping any of our columnists, but we are adding conservative voices, such as Star Parker and Walter Williams.
We also invite our readers to write op-eds of 500 to 750 words, as well as letters to the editor — generally 300 words or less — on timely and topical issues. (By the way, The Herald must receive endorsement letters by Oct. 20, two weeks before the Nov. 3 election.)
Editorials representing the newspaper’s institutional views — or guest editorials representing the viewpoints of other newspapers — will become an even more important part of our opinion page.
Earlier this year, I won the Pulitzer Prize for a series of editorials, entitled “Death without Conviction,” which exposed the negligence that led to needless and horrific deaths in Texas county jails. Likewise, the editorials I and others write here will be pragmatic, based on independent reporting, and aimed at making a difference in this community.
Other recent and evolving changes to the editorial page include the addition of color and more dynamic page designs. Eventually, The Herald will use other platforms to express its institutional viewpoints, including podcasts, videos, Instagram and youtube.
As editor, I will continue to eschew labels like “liberal” or “conservative,” which often trigger instant and unreasoned judgements. Good ideas come from almost anywhere. Looking at an issue through a rigid ideology is no way to get to the truth.
By allowing 100 flowers to bloom on our our editorial pages, we hope to fairly reflect the views of this community, while challenging our readers to learn from others. Regardless of what you think, or how you vote, we hope you enjoy the changes.
Jeffery Gerritt is editor of The Herald.