Daily Herald unveils new advisory panel of suburban readers and experts
Group of suburban experts reflects diverse voices
The Daily Herald is launching an advisory Sounding Board made up of suburban readers and experts to broaden the perspectives the Editorial Board considers when crafting editorial opinions.
The 10-member board, comprising men and women of varying ages and walks of life, will interact in private group conversations with the newspaper's Editorial Board, said Jim Slusher, the newspaper's deputy managing editor for opinion.
At an organizational meeting for the new group, Slusher said the paper's "fundamental goal is to make our editorials better."
"Of course, we strive in our editorials to some extent to persuade people of our points of view," he told the group, "but a large part of our goal is, beyond that, to get people to think themselves, and to give them a perspective on our communities, our life, our world ... that they can engage with.
"Out of that process, we believe better democracy occurs and people are smarter and better about the way that they manage their communities and their lives."
The Sounding Board members hail from across the political spectrum and represent various ethnic, religious, educational, professional and public service backgrounds. They are:
• Pamela Davis of West Chicago, former CEO of Edward Hospital System.
• David Dial of Naperville, Aurora University criminal justice chairman and former Naperville police chief.
• Nathaniel Edmond of Lake in the Hills, pastor of Second Baptist Church of Elgin.
• Amy Florian of Hoffman Estates, CEO of Corgenius and a fellow in thanatology, the scientific study of death.
• Grace Garlick of Arlington Heights, a journalism student at Harper College in Palatine.
• Therese Hart of Crystal Lake, humanities professor and department chair at Harper College in Palatine.
• Carole Medal of Arlington Heights, executive director of Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin and Arlington Heights Library Board trustee.
• Christine Radogno of Lemont, retired Illinois state Senate Republican leader.
• Edgar Ramos of Homer Glen, a licensed clinical psychologist and founder and director of Ramos and Associates Behavioral Health Clinic.
• Tom Roeser of Barrington Hills, president of Otto Engineering in Carpentersville.
Another initial participant, Vaseem Iftekhar of Hawthorn Woods, decided to run for the College of Lake County board after the Sounding Board was formed.
Founder and chairman of the Northern Illinois American Muslim Alliance in Hawthorn Woods, he is stepping aside from the Sounding Board until the election campaign is over to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.
"We wanted to get people who have lots of different experiences of life and who can engage with us about ideas they think that we ought to be writing about," Slusher said.
"We purposely tried to find a group that would have a wide variety of perspectives on the world."
Slusher emphasized that discussions with the Sounding Board will be conducted for the purposes of background and engagement.
He said he hopes the exchange will help Editorial Board members write deeper, more thoughtful editorials, even in cases where an editorial differs from the point of view of an individual Sounding Board member.
Indeed, he said he doesn't expect much consensus from the group and added that an important byproduct of this process will be to show that people of widely different political and social perspectives can exchange ideas constructively, with civility and respect.
Florian said she appreciated the paper's concerted effort in promoting civility in discourse, an underlying message in many of its editorials.
Sounding Board members recognized their role is not to rubber-stamp the newspaper's editorial ideas nor to speak with one voice.
"We may not agree," Edmond said, "and that's OK."
Daily Herald Editor John Lampinen noted that even Editorial Board members sometimes disagree with each other to varying degrees on positions the newspaper takes.
Editorials collectively represent the institutional voice and traditional values of the newspaper as a community leader, he said.
Editorials maintain consistency over the years, Lampinen said, in much the same way that Supreme Court opinions reflect precedents established over time.
"The newspaper's vision is generally fiscally conservative, socially moderate or progressive," Lampinen said. "We know that our communities are more diverse than the members of this Editorial Board, so when we do stake out positions, we want to make sure that we do a better job of hearing from different perspectives in the community."
Lampinen stressed he expects Sounding Board members to bring up issues important to their communities that the paper otherwise might not be addressing.
The board's work will begin in earnest this month through regular communications with Daily Herald editors supplemented by quarterly group get-togethers.