The New York Times was an early adopter of the concept of an op-ed page. Op-ed is shorthand for “opposite the editorial page.”
In the layout of a print newspaper, the page is directly opposite the traditional editorial page, hence the name. But it means more than that. The idea is to provide space for opinions that do not necessarily agree with those written by the newspaper’s opinion editors. In fact, such pieces are often in direct opposition to a newspaper’s own editorial view.
The Union Leader has always provided space for a wide range of opinions. For decades, that was largely limited to letters to the editor.
Under the late Publisher Nackey Loeb, the policy was expanded to include opinion pieces on an op-ed page.
Now there are days when we don’t publish an editorial page but still carry opinion pieces. It’s not technically an op-ed page on those days. Instead, we call these NH Voices pages.
We welcome submissions. But if you want to know if yours will be published, you will have to read the paper to find out. We receive too many pieces to acknowledge them all.
The New York Times may soon not have that problem. Some of its staff were outraged that an opposing opinion, by a U.S. Senator no less, was published on its op-ed page. The opinion editor then resigned.
Sen. Tom Cotton’s piece supported use of the U.S. military to deal with violence that has marred some protests against racial injustice in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month.
One can agree or disagree with that opinion, but it is absurd that an opposing view is not to be tolerated on the op-ed page.
It is sadly illustrative of the point we have reached where anything said or written about racial issues that is not in complete accord with our own view is to be condemned and the speaker or writer stoned. It is not a formula for resolving tough and complicated issues.