A few weeks ago, we launched two local political columnists — liberal Tom Fulks and conservative John Peschong — in the Opinion section of The Tribune. Many readers were already familiar with them, because both have years of experience in politics and extensive knowledge of the Central Coast.
I was asked recently whether The Tribune pays them. We don’t.
When approached about tackling the columns, both men were interested in offering readers for free “fresh, lively and at times provocative takes on issues and events important to San Luis Obispo County,” Opinion Editor Stephanie Finucane wrote in introducing them to readers Jan. 25. She summarized their professional backgrounds, including their involvement in political campaigns, and noted that both, most recently Peschong, have written columns for us in the past.
Our plan is to rotate their columns on Sundays. Each will include a brief bio.
For the record: We don’t pay for any local political commentary and viewpoints. And nearly all of our national columnists, such as Leonard Pitts and Dan Walters, are included in the wire service content that we buy from the New York Times News Service, Tribune News Service, The Associated Press and others. A few columns are purchased separately, such as those from Charles Krauthammer.
Our intent is to offer readers a marketplace of ideas across the political spectrum — a place, both on our website and in print where local issues can be debated intelligently, and where questions can be raised, in a forum without fear of anonymous personal attacks. We all benefit from such open, civil discourse.
Readership patterns continue to change. An increasing percentage of readers seek breaking news updates on their smartphones throughout the day — or regular updates on our website that they can access on their tablets or computers. Many learn of news developments through their Twitter feeds, Facebook pages and Instagram accounts.
As a result, our news staff is tweeting developing news, prep and college games, and posting stories, photos and videos to our website, Facebook and YouTube as soon as we produce them. Sometimes that means giving you only the essentials and adding more information as we gather and verify it.
We will continue to adapt how we deliver the news to reflect the changing way we all communicate with each other and share information. That means ongoing shifts in our approach to both digital and print. You’ve undoubtedly noticed, for example, that we’ve recently moved all local news into the A section on Thursdays and Fridays, putting even more local stories on the front page and inside. That could change again down the road.
But what won’t change is our commitment to providing the most comprehensive, useful and compelling watchdog coverage in San Luis Obispo County — giving you key information to make sound decisions that affect you, and looking over the shoulders of city officials and school boards. Equally as important, we will continue to adhere to our high ethical standards to maintain your trust.