This past week my assistant, Matt Harvey, took a phone call from a reader who was upset with a column we had run on one of our editorial pages.
The column was a satire about Bob Jones University. It was written by a columnist from Newsday, a daily newspaper in Long Island, N.Y. Unfortunately, we didn't do a very good job of identifying that it was a guest column and the way it was written, it could have been easily confused as a letter to the editor.
Obviously, that wasn't our intention and we have since clarified that issue in print.
But I think it's important for readers to realize that our editorial pages are meant to spark thought and debate.
There are times when I don't agree with some of our columnists, who range from the Exponent's Morton Kondracke to the Telegram's Cal Thomas. But that's OK.
Our hope is to cover both ends of the spectrum. During the week, The Exponent is the more liberal and the Telegram the more conservative. We have two separate, local editorial boards that comment on issues of importance on the area, state and national levels.
On Saturday and Sunday, we usually have two editorials, one by the Exponent board and one by the Telegram. Occasionally, the boards will agree to support or question one or two issues.
The majority of our columnists for the editorial pages are nationally known. We acquire the right to publish their work by paying syndicating services large sums of money.
We do, however, have our own columnists.
Bob Stealey's Bob'n'Along is a big hit with our readers. Bob's been known to wax poetically about long-ago North Central West Virginia one day and then tackle a tough issue the next. His columns appear Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They also appear to anger teachers, at least according to his recent hate mail.
James Logue's column appears every Thursday. And, as he's pointed out, you can't believe a word he says, usually. He dabbles in the field of humor.
Or at least he thinks so. Apparently so do many of our readers who stop me from time to time to ask me what Jamie's really like.
You don't really want to know.
Then there's Pam Marra's column in the Sunday Celebrations section. She's our own little "Erma Bombeck," writing about the pains and laughs of everyday life in a way only she can.
Our historical columnist, Gerald Swick, has a strong base of fans who love to read about the history of their hometowns. His column also appears in the Sunday Celebrations section.
From time to time, other staff writers will write a guest column, usually on Tuesdays for our Coffee Talk column on the Corridor page.
And of course, our sports staff will do columns from time to time on issues important to our many, many sports fans.
That leaves yours truly, who sits at his computer every Thursday and Friday trying to come up with a topic for his columns, which appear Saturday and Sunday on the editorial pages.
At times, I want to be a humor columnist. Other times, I really want to get a point across. For the record, I'm a moderate with right-leaning tendencies except on some social issues that are near and dear to my heart.
In other words, I'm confused.