In this space last week, the Review’s editorial position on the recent barrage of referendum ballot submissions for the April election was heartfelt but included a notable factual error.
We need to acknowledge that mistake, explain the actual process by which referendum questions reach the ballot, and to offer our sincere apology.
In the editorial, we urged village commissioners to speak out against what we termed rubbish petitions when they were presented to the village council for ratification at a future council meeting. The problem is that citizen-driven petitions do not get ratified by local elected officials. Rather they are certified as having an adequate number of signatures and placed on the ballot by the Cook County Clerk.
The error resulted from incorrect assumptions on the Review’s part. Don’t assume, both our mothers and our journalistic mentors told us. It will “make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me’.” It was an unacceptable error on our part and we offer our apology to our readers.
We regret that our error undermined the broader point of the editorial. The creation and the passing of these cynical petitions is an effort to prevent Forest Parkers from placing a binding referendum on the ballot to resolve the harsh debate over video gaming in Forest Park. We stand by that opinion and continue to ask council members to disassociate themselves from these hardball political tactics.
Who writes these editorials anyhow?
Recent social media posts — Mr. Mayor — related to last week’s editorial gaffe have suggested some sort of subterfuge related to the authorship of the Review’s weekly editorials.
There is a long tradition in newspapers that the paper’s editorial positions are the collective response to local issues by that paper’s editorial staff. The editorials therefore represent a shared view, and, over time define that paper’s take on the community it serves.
Editorials, then, are traditionally unsigned.
If you’re the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal, there is an editorial board with a good many bodies connected to it. If you are the Forest Park Review, then the pool of voices is considerably smaller. But the process is the same. Each week there is a discussion within our small group — sometimes two people, sometimes a couple more — about what topics we will write about, what our positions should be. Some weeks that conversation happens standing around a desk in the newsroom, sometimes it happens on an email thread.
But the tradition of unsigned editorials remains an honorable one that we choose to continue because of what it represents in journalism. It is not about secrecy. Heck, the mayor has cracked the code and concluded correctly that the Review’s publisher is writing the edits these days. Over the years, various editors and reporters have had that assignment.
We — that would be the 99-year-old, independently owned, best in the state, Forest Park Review — will continue to focus on reporting local news, stating clear editorial positions, and opening our pages to all critics and supporters.