We’re joining forces on NC opinion pages

Astute readers of the opinion pages have noticed something different lately in Charlotte, Raleigh and Durham. Let’s make it official.

The editorial boards of the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer are teaming up to provide fuller and more diverse opinion content to our readers. As NC Opinion Editor, I’ll be leading both boards, as well as opinion coverage for the Durham Herald-Sun.

Here’s what that means: You’ll be getting more voices and more perspectives on your opinion pages. That begins with our editorial boards in Raleigh and Charlotte, which include award-winning News & Observer writer Ned Barnett and Charlotte’s Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Kevin Siers, who also will turn his eye and pen toward what’s happening in Raleigh. We’ll be joined on the combined editorial board by News & Observer President and Publisher Sara Glines, Observer Publisher Rodney Mahone and News & Observer Executive Editor Robyn Tomlin. We hope to add to the board in the coming months.

The opinion team will continue to provide sharp, thoughtful commentary on issues important to the Triangle and Charlotte region. Our cities and towns share many challenges, from affordable housing to public education. There’s a lot we can learn from each other and with each other, and our editorial boards will explore that connective tissue regularly.

You’ll also be getting more local content produced by people who live in communities like yours. Our combined roster of contributing columnists includes conservatives J. Peder Zane in Raleigh and former Charlotte City Council member Kenny Smith, as well as liberal and moderate voices like Gene Nichol and Aleta Payne in the Triangle and Justin Perry and Dana Ervin in Charlotte. Those and other contributing columnists will continue to write about the cities where they live, but they’ll also tackle issues important to all North Carolinians.

Here’s what the changes don’t mean: You won’t see Charlotte writers producing editorials on the Raleigh City Council, or vice versa. It’s important to readers — and to us — that when we explore issues specific to Raleigh or Charlotte, local editorial board members are doing the reporting, thinking and writing. Our newspapers have long been an integral part of their communities, and our editorial boards will continue to be an important and informed voice in local conversations.

We’ll also host those conversations in old ways and new. We welcome your letters to the editors and op-eds, and Ned Barnett will continue his successful Community Voices events with newsmakers and other interesting people. We’ll explore new conversations in Raleigh and Charlotte, especially as the 2020 election approaches. We’re excited about that and other things to come.

Some things, however, won’t change.

We will continue to hold public officials and institutions accountable for the decisions they make and don’t make. We’ll continue to believe that people should not be treated as something lesser because of their skin color, whom they love, or where and whether they worship and pray. We’ll continue to be certain there is value in perspectives different than ours.

Interim Observer managing editor Taylor Batten, whom I’ve had the pleasure and honor of working with for eight years on the editorial board, said it best a few years back: “We approach the issues of the day with an open mind and guided by those principles, not by blind devotion to any political party.”

That remains true today as our editorial boards take this new step together. We’re glad you’re joining us.

Peter: pstonge@charlotteobserver.com; @saintorange