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updated: 1/17/2013 5:55 PM

An addition helps strengthen the 'mysterious' editorial board

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Renee Trappe, the Daily Herald's assistant managing editor for local news, joined the newspaper's editorial board this week, and that gives me a dual opportunity today.

The first is simply to introduce Renee to you. She's a 27-year veteran of the Daily Herald who has overseen our local-news operation in Cook County for more than a decade and who, as a native of the region with direct experience also in DuPage and Lake counties, knows about as much about the history, events and personalities in the area the Daily Herald serves as anyone you can imagine. She's a great writer and a great mentor of writers, and I'm sure she's going to add valuable dimensions to the thinking and writing of our editorials.

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Which leads to my second opportunity, that of describing for you the sometimes mysterious workings of this "editorial board" you hear so much about but likely have little understanding of. That's not by design. We have no desire to be secretive. It's just that the personalities and presentations in many other parts of the paper -- Sports, Food, News, Business and so on -- seem so much easier to identify than this band of editors and officers who presume to give the newspaper its institutional voice.

The identities of the group are listed in the masthead at the top of this page. The members include two senior vice presidents, the managing editor, a deputy managing editor, me and senior editors with a variety of titles and diverse areas of responsibility. And they combine to serve a function that has deep historical roots among the missions of newspapers -- to play an active role in the civic life of the communities we serve.

Throughout most of the newspaper, our primary goal is to inform and occasionally to entertain. On this page, the Opinion Page, we aim to directly engage your thinking by presenting essays and letters intended not just to inform but to persuade -- pursuing a philosophy that, emphasizing liberty, is conservative on fiscal matters and more progressive socially while remaining true to values and editorial positions the newspaper has taken over the course of time.

Of course, whether you are persuaded or not is up to you, but the process of debate and discussion is a critical one for any democracy. On most social questions, we facilitate that process with a range of columns from the liberal Froma Harrop to the conservative Michael Gerson and many others in between. But at the top of the page, carrying only the byline "Our View," we aim to influence community actions and public policy on all manner of political and social issues as one entity. It's the area where we most directly seek to participate in the decision making that affects the quality of life throughout the suburbs. That "Our View" essay carries no byline for a reason. It represents what we see as the voice of the newspaper as a corporate citizen, and the positions we stake out are not those of any one individual but positions arrived at through the consensus of the men and women whose names you see listed in the masthead.

It's a fascinating process, involving a fair amount of give and take, reflection and discussion. A given editorial reflects the passion of the individual who penned it, to be sure, but it also is always modified by the contributions, creativity and, yes sometimes, contrary views of other board members. Nor does rank alone win out when these discussions get controversial. The positions we espouse represent a view truly developed from the combined thoughts of several individuals with diverse areas of expertise and an overriding commitment to the betterment of our communities, our state and our society.

As a regional editor, Renee -- like board members Pete Nenni and Jim Davis in their separate areas -- will add a unique local perspective to our discussions and our thinking and strengthen the singular voice of the Daily Herald as a responsible, active citizen of the democracy.

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