The Mercury, like most community newspapers its size, has not traditionally had an editorial board of writers who determine and produce Opinion pieces for the paper and its related digital sites.
When people have called requesting an interview with "the editorial board," I tell them they're already talking to it.
Part of my job as editor is being a one-person editorial board. I write "Our View," sometimes after discussing it with a reporter or other editor. Mostly, I write Opinion pieces that I believe reflect the tone and stance of our paper and that celebrate or ask for correction of a community issue.
We're not alone in this challenge. The Mercury is part of a larger network of media sites known as Digital First Media. That network includes papers as different from us as The Denver Post and as similar as The Times Herald in Norristown and Daily Local News in West Chester.
It allows us to share resources, including editorials which we have often published with a tag line showing authorship.
You may have noticed in recent weeks that those tag lines no longer appear.
That's because The Mercury is now part of a Digital First Media Pennsylvania Editorial Board. The editorial board contributions reflect a collective opinion of the nine newspapers that make up the board.
The newspapers are The Mercury, Times Herald, Daily Local News, Delaware County Daily Times, The (Lansdale) Reporter, York Daily Record, Chambersburg Public Opinion, Lebanon Daily News and Hanover Evening Sun.
The group "meets" by phone once a week to discuss common issues to Pennsylvania and the region. They decide on topics for editorials and on who will write them. Each contributor makes the editorial available to the group via email, but there is no obligation for an individual site to publish what's provided. We still write our own local views and can reject a regional edit if we don't agree with its stance.
The board hopes to become a regional and state voice in government and on issues of common importance like nuclear power plants and the environment. The board last week interviewed Barry Schoch, who heads PennDOT, about the need for legislation to fix Pennsylvania's roads and bridges.
We have in the past interviewed Gov. Tom Corbett and Sen. Pat Toomey, and we hope to do more of that in the future.
Working as a group gives us a louder voice on issues in state and county government.
By sharing, we can bring our best and brightest to the forefront in writing Opinion pieces. We are also utilizing the talents of cartoonist Alan MacBain to accompany many of our editorials.
This is an exciting step forward for The Mercury, amplifying our voice on statewide issues that affect our local communities. Not every "Our View" will be on a regional or statewide issue; we will continue to write Opinion pieces on issues of purely local interest. And, Friday's "Roses and Thorns" continues as our local means of giving cheers and boos.
We're excited about this change and hope that you, our readers, are, too. We want our opinions to inspire action that benefits you.
Be assured: Property tax reform is at the top of our list.